Julie Bishop (second from left) with SCU Vice-Chancellor Paul Clark (left) in Lismore yesterday.
Julie Bishop (second from left) with SCU Vice-Chancellor Paul Clark (left) in Lismore yesterday.

Bishop attracts a crowd at uni visit

By Fay Knight

FEDERAL Science Minister Julie Bishop made a whirlwind tour of Southern Cross University in Lismore yesterday so the uni could show off its research credentials. \ The Minister was accompanied by a scrum of media minders and managers, Page MP Ian Causley, Vice-Chancellor Paul Clark and other university staff.

It was Ms Bishop's first visit to the university, though not to the Northern Rivers, where she has been a frequent visitor on official business over the years.

SCU is noted for its research strengths in natural and complementary medicines, as well as specialist training.

Plant conservation genetics is also a specialist field for the university, and all staff were very interested in how best the uni might obtain funding increases from the Federal Government.

Ms Bishop said she was 'impressed, but not surprised' at the quality of research at SCU and the diversity of its range of subjects.

A quick stop in the Medicinal Garden followed, where Ms Bishop spoke of her sister, Dr Patricia Bishop, and her interest in and studies of complementary medicine in both Canada and Australia.

However, Ms Bishop herself failed to identify the 'pink daisies' in the garden as Echinacea, which is widely used in a number of alternative health treatments, and was interested to learn that the name came from their spiky centres, which are compared with echidnas.

While examining the garden, Prof Iain Graham told Ms Bishop he was inviting HRH The Prince of Wales to visit the university and promised to invite her to come back should the Prince agree to come.

In answer to The Northern Star's questions about government funding designed to combat bullying in schools, Ms Bishop emphasised that funding from the 2005-2008 allocation was for both government and non-government schools. She said it was conditional on schools adopting best practice techniques in dealing with the problem.

Parents who were concerned could also access the anti-bullying website which provides information and assistance, she said.

Ms Bishop said the proposed 2009-2012 funding for schools was designed to assist parents in both making choices and in applying for funding increases for their selected schools where necessary, by keeping parents informed of the incidence of bullying and of particular details.

Funding would be tied to schools agreeing to supply information to parents.

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