Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 9 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 2607..
MR MULCAHY: No, I did not suggest celebrations such as Christmas. What I said is that I think the government goes beyond what is appropriate for the territory in funding more and more state-sponsored events that really are family events that do not require Jon Stanhope to tell us how to celebrate Mothers Day or Fathers Day. My point is that the territory government needs to ease off a bit on this state-sponsored activity and let people enjoy these things in their own way without feeling it has to have a government official structure around what have been long traditional family events. Christmas and other events will occur, notwithstanding Mr Stanhope's involvement or otherwise—and long will be the case, thank heavens!
I also make the point that, since this bill was introduced, we have seen an extraordinary announcement by the government in relation to another planned holiday. I will not anticipate debate, Mr Speaker, so I am constrained from commenting on that in this place. I hope that in the context of holidays the minister will think very carefully about the consequences of ill-considered other initiatives to create holidays that can lead to dislocation of the business community, a closure of many places, as can occur on certain holidays, and an end of the camaraderie that may exist in the workplace when people celebrate events interstate. Obviously that is not the case with Canberra Day.
I caution the minister against placating his friends in the trade union movement not to disregard the unintended consequences of his actions, and my words are being borne out already. The unintended consequences will be to ruin a great day of the year later this year. I think that is very lamentable. It shows an ill-thought through idea that was obviously thought up to appease people on the floor of the ALP conference. In fact, contrary to what was first thought to be a popular measure, I think people are now starting to say, "Gee, this is not so smart. We have events being cancelled at the Canberra racecourse, we have events being cancelled at hotels, we have closures anticipated in Kingston and Manuka."Whilst this particular amendment is in order—and I do not want to anticipate debate, Mr Speaker—in the general principle of public holidays legislation, when we start creating or dreaming up new approaches, we need to realise what that will mean for those who enjoy the particular day you may have in mind.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.18), in reply: I thank the opposition for their support of the Holidays (Canberra Day) Amendment Bill 2007. It is worth observing that we undertook an extensive process of community consultation on both this change and other changes to public holidays in August last year. Community consultation on the issue of Canberra Day did result in a mixed outcome within employer groups and unions, with no clear preference expressed for celebrating Canberra Day on 12 March or on the second Monday in March. But the community did indeed indicate a very clear preference to maintain a long weekend, perhaps not surprisingly. That is why the government has pursued the second Monday in March as the appropriate time to celebrate Canberra Day. It is closer to our actual birthday of 12 March and in some years the public holiday will occur on our birthday.