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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 3797..


Olympic Games

MRS CROSS (10.08): I speak about the Olympics in Athens this year. For quite some time now the legendary knockers in some sections of the Australian media have been part of a petty, mean-spirited campaign to seek opportunities to disparage the progress of Greece's preparations for the 2004 Olympics. No doubt, Mr Speaker, you have noticed this trend-this long run of cocksure comments about whether the Greeks were up to organising such an event, about whether the traffic would be improved, whether accommodation would be adequate, whether it would be too hot, too polluted, and, probably most of all, would the opening ceremony match the one Australia put on in 2000.

In essence, the knockers were no doubt hoping that things would go awry with the Greek event and that the opening ceremony in Athens would be a lesser event than Sydney's wonderful show. What is the reality? All through the half-baked criticism Greece said it would be ready on the day, but there were those who hoped it would not. The Greeks told us that all would work smoothly but doubts persisted. The Greeks told us that the opening ceremony of the games would be original, dramatic and spectacular in its presentation and its representation of the long history, the culture, and the enduring achievements of the Hellenic people.

Despite all the carping, the games were ready in the end as the Greeks said they would be, and the opening ceremony was truly spectacular. What I saw the other night exceeded whatever expectations I had. The opening event was marked by such a depth of imagination, creativity, humanity, innovation, surprise, delight and sheer skill that it awed me and uplifted me. It was simply wonderful and from what I have seen or heard of the games so far they seem to be running very well too.

I note a couple of special things about these games. First, we have for the first time the participation of the representatives of the new nation of Timor-Leste or East Timor, striding out with sheer delight on their faces. What a significant mark of their emergence as a nation of the world. There was the Iraqi team, obviously delighted to be there. I hear that their fairly large contingent included 27 competitors, which runs rings around the four that Saddam Hussein and his gifted sons managed to send to Sydney. That in itself is a strong, positive sign for the new Iraq.

I call on all members to join me in expressing the hope the games in Athens will go on in the happy, open and positive spirit that marked their beginning and in the secure and friendly competitive atmosphere. I congratulate Greece on the great Olympic Games it is putting on in the land where the games began so long ago. It has been truly moving to see them return to Hellos, not just for the Hellenes of the world, but I hope for the rest of the world.

Chief Minister-multicultural portfolio

MR HARGREAVES (10.11): In the last Assembly multicultural affairs got a sleeveless sweater rather than a full-on guernsey. It was not really high on the agenda. In voter land it was hardly on the lips of people at the dinner table. I cannot sit here and listen to Mr Pratt's pontificating about this Chief Minister's achievement without having some sort of


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