Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:34): On 1 May I hosted the 4th Annual Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards at the Montrose Football Club. As I have told the House before, in 2009 I initiated these awards to recognise and reward excellence and achievement and to encourage careers in local trades and small business. Four prominent local business leaders again kindly volunteered their time to sift through the nominations and select those they thought most deserving. I want to thank those four: Phil Munday of Phil Munday's Panel Works, who chaired the independent judging panel, along with Sue O'Brien of Chateau Yering, Nick Fraraccio of Stevens Glass and Clive Larkman of Larkman Nurseries.
The industries represented this year included horticulture, landscaping, carpentry, electrical, glazing and hairdressing. From the applications received, the judging panel decided upon 10 finalists, and of those 10 there were two Overall Winners: 18-year-old Blake Collings from Wesburn, who is a horticulture apprentice at Oz Watergardens in Monbulk, and 17-year-old Jayden Battaglene, from Chirnside Park, who is a landscape construction apprentice at Coolabah Landscaping in Rowville. The Runner-up Award was won by 20-year-old David Graham from Monbulk, who is an apprentice electrician with Everyday Air & Electrical Solutions in Seville, and 21-year-old Ryan Adams from Mooroolbark was awarded the Encouragement Award, and he is an apprentice carpenter with MN Constructions in Warrandyte. The other finalists included Nick Distefano, a 24-year-old apprentice in carpentry and Jordan Iverach, a 20-year-old apprentice in Horticulture Turf Management. There was also Joshua Mayall, an apprentice electrician; Reece Miles, an apprentice glazier; Joshua Sperring, an apprentice horticulturist; and Nicole Van Tonder, an apprentice hairdresser.
I want to pay tribute again to the committee and my congratulations to all of the finalists and to their families and friends, who all came along on the evening to celebrate the great success of all of those in the apprentice trainee of the year awards.