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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . . Page.. 346..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

On the whole subject of consultation, the current ACT government has a bit of a fetish for so-called consultation. I point out that Tennant Creek has been on the drawing board for 35 years and I think that, even after that period, Mr Stanhope could make up his mind.

Australia Day citizenship ceremony

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (5.41): Mr Speaker, I want to relay details of a very unfortunate incident that occurred on Australia Day this year. The citizenship ceremony that occurs annually in Commonwealth Park was marred by the speech of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister was given the opportunity to welcome more than 100 new Australians to the national family and instead he took the opportunity to give a speech that I believe was overtly political, partisan and, in particular, in poor taste. At the end of his speech, you would have thought he was listing reasons for people not to become Australian citizens.

I know that some people walked away from the ceremony in disgust and I know that many people were confused as to how a speech to welcome them to the national family should be turned into such an event. To his credit, at the end of his speech the Chief Minister did say, "Welcome to the Australian family. It's great to have you here."The majority of his speech was an attack on the Howard government. These ceremonies have always been treated in a bipartisan fashion. They have always been apolitical and have always been speeches of encouragement to individuals to join the national family.

The Chief Minister's disrespect for the day was heightened when he ran his "Welcome Back Cotter"function on the same day in opposition to the functions that were occurring in Commonwealth Park. It is quite curious that initially there was no funding for the festivities in Commonwealth Park. The excuse was that it was just another concert, another picnic, and that it was going to duplicate what the federal government had done the night before. What did the Chief Minister run? It was nothing but a concert in a park-in this case the Cotter park. The "Welcome Back Cotter"function could have been run any day; it did not have to be run on Australia Day.

The real shame of it is that we then had little signs going up saying, "Aussie barbecue."You did not even have the guts to say that it was an Australia Day barbecue; it was turned into an Aussie barbecue-let us be ashamed, let us be embarrassed, to celebrate Australia Day. Perhaps the Chief Minister would like to come and tell the Assembly his reasoning for making this happen at such short notice after he had knocked off the funding for the Australia Day in the National Capital Inc. event. It is a contradiction; he is just a spoiler.

To cap it all off, if you have read the social plan-Mr Speaker, I know you read all the documents you receive because you are assiduous in your duties-you will know that on page 12, at the top of the plan, the aim of the government is said to be to build up social capital and to build up team spirit and community spirit. What are we going to do as a government? We are going to celebrate days of significance like Australia Day, New Year's Eve and Canberra Day more appropriately. Who knocked off the funding for New Year's Eve and Australia Day? I don't know what it is doing with Canberra Day at this stage.


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