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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (14 March) . . Page.. 574..

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre—proposed statue of Mr Al Grassby

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (5.34): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes the inappropriateness, cost and lack of community consultation in respect of the Government's decision to commission and erect a statue of former Federal minister, Al Grassby, in the foyer of the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government not to proceed with this project any further.

Mr Speaker, firstly let me say that I knew and I liked Al Grassby. I knew the man for a considerable amount of time, I enjoyed his company, and I make no bones about the fact that I liked him. In fact I like quite a few people. But just because you like someone is not any reason to put up a statue. For example, I might like John Gorton, but I do not think it would be particularly appropriate at this point in time for a statue of him.

Why isn't it appropriate to put up a statue? And why is it that so many people have been incensed by this decision by the government—or, rather, by Mr Hargreaves, backed by the government it seems—at this point in time? I do not think I have seen before quite so much community anger and disappointment and indeed interest, not only locally but nationally. A number of reasons spring to mind for this.

Firstly, even though I was very good friends with Al Grassby, I would have to concede that he was a controversial figure. The government, it seems, hatched this idea and committed public moneys to it without any community consultation. The first people knew about it was that it was announced as a fait accompli; it was mentioned in a government multicultural newsletter. It is a somewhat insensitive decision too, as we have found out. It is insensitive to the Mackay family, who have certainly not been consulted by the government. In fact, they were so upset that they wrote to the newspapers this month. I am not going to go into all of their concerns, but they are on the public record. They state:

As the children of the late Donald Mackay we welcome the development of a multicultural resource centre. We are, however, disappointed with the ACT government's decision to erect a monument to Al Grassby as its centrepiece.

They went further in terms of criticising Mr Grassby there. The children cited are James Mackay of Canberra; Paul Mackay of Griffith, New South Wales; Ruth Fletcher of Cooma; and Mary Martin of Canberra.

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