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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . . Page.. 347..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

The contradiction is that the government has removed the funding. The contradiction is that the government has chosen over the last couple of years not to celebrate these days appropriately-to withdraw the fireworks. People have said to me that the last year New Year's Eve celebrations were the quietest that they could remember for many years. Many people said, "There were no fireworks. Rather than watching them on TV or on the screen from Sydney we went to Sydney"or "We went down the coast"or "We went somewhere that celebrated rather than being embarrassed."

It is a shame that the government has taken such a short-sighted view. It is curious that, after saying for some time that it will not fund such events, we see in the social plan that it is now going to fund such events. I look forward in years to come to seeing fireworks on New Year's Eve and on Australia Day and enhanced celebrations of Canberra Day. The Chief Minister is now reacting to what members of the public are telling him-that is, they are disappointed in the boring approach, the dull approach, of his government, and the lack of recognition of these days by his government over the last two years.

I am pleased to see that the Chief Minister has now joined us. Perhaps he could explain why he has chosen to politicise, downgrade and denigrate Australia Day and why he then did a backflip in his social plan. I think he is finally getting the message from the community that they hate the boring view of this government. It has turned this capital into the most boring place in Australia.

It is interesting to watch the wrap-up of New Year's Eve on TV. We cross to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart for their fireworks-you can go all round Australia-but there are no fireworks in the national capital. You can go to Merimbula for fireworks; you can go to the Tathra pub for fireworks. You can go just about anywhere for fireworks, except for government-sponsored fireworks in the ACT on New Year's Eve. Shame, Chief Minister, shame!

Australia Day citizenship ceremony

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (5.46): Just to put in context the speech I gave on Australia Day, I am more than happy to provide members with the truth of what I said. I am more than happy to read it into the record for the information of members. In my address I did acknowledge the symbolic importance of Australia Day. Symbolism is more important because the date carries quite different meanings for the many members of our diverse Australian community.

I commented on the fact that, 216 years ago, the First Fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour. They set up a camp and a colony on what they declared to be terra nullius or empty land. It did not take anybody very long to realise that Australia was not terra nullius. It has taken almost everybody no real time effectively to discover that-except, of course, the Liberal Party who have consistently rejected the notion that Australia was not terra nullius.

We have had a lot of time to reflect since 1788 about the meaning of the first significant-26 January-landing at Sydney Cove. We still have time to reflect on that date. The commemoration on 26 January is a particularly moot time for us to do that. It is


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