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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004-2005 Week 1 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 290..


Eureka Stockade-150th anniversary

Debate resumed.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.42): Mr Speaker, I am pleased to support Mr Smyth's amendment presented earlier. I would like to thank Mrs Dunne for helping create the opportunity for discussion of private members' matters which she had hoped to discuss. The position of rural lessees, I think, is of far greater importance than she had thought. Indeed, I think many might regard them as Canberra's forgotten people in some respects.

In relation to Mr Gentleman's proposal, I think it is a tragedy that so often important parts of history get hijacked by the Labor Party and other groups. I have to pay some credit, Mr Speaker, to members of the Labor Party because they are clearly experts at history revisionism. In fairness, I would acknowledge that the Liberal Party has much to learn about the way they can manage to recast events. They treat failed leaders often as iconic figures to be hailed and lauded even when they have taken the country down all sorts of disastrous roads economically.

I guess one of our failings has been that we tend to stay true to history; we try not to reconstruct history. But our colleagues in the Labor Party are past masters at this task and I give them credit for that. It is amazing how well they over time can recast events, claim ownership of them and then, through particular stands on important historic events, seek to create a division in the Australian community so that something that may warrant a certain level of recognition in historical terms ends up becoming an issue of division.

I know that other state Labor governments' actions in relation to the Eureka anniversary or sesquicentenary have been cited as a cause for action and a basis for condemning the Howard government, which, of course, was recently strongly re-elected for a fourth term. But I am not sure that other state governments ought to be the basis on which we mould all of our actions.

Ms Porter, I think, has cited having a similar heritage to my own, having being born in the city of Hobart. Something that many members would not be aware of when they recast history is that it was decided to make Tasmania a settlement one year earlier. Because it was not politically correct to recognise where the European settlement started, they decided down there that they would then make the 200-year mark a year later.

Mr Corbell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know that Mr Mulcahy needs to set some context for his comments, but he is well into his speech now and we are yet to hear any mention of Eureka, which is the purpose of the motion. I would ask you to suggest to him that he needs to remain relevant to the motion.

MR SPEAKER: Relevance is important in all debates.

MR MULCAHY: Yes, Mr Speaker. I was just putting the situation in context.

MR SPEAKER: And relevance will not be far away.


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