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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (4 December) . . Page.. 3911..

MR BARR (continuing):

The AIDS Action Council hosts a fair day in the grounds of Westlund House each year that attracts between 500 and 1,000 people over the course of the day. A range of government organisations participate—the AFP, amongst others—who set up stalls and provide information over the course of the day. It is an important thing for the gay and lesbian community in Canberra that there is an opportunity through this festival to come together and provide a setting and environment outside some other aspects of life in which to get together. I thank this year's organising committee, particularly Emily Downie, who is also heading overseas. There will be a couple of positions that are very difficult to fill in organising the event for 2008.

Whilst we are on the theme of gay and lesbian issues, it was interesting that the incoming leader of the federal Liberal Party, Brendan Nelson, took the opportunity in some of his opening remarks to signal a change in direction for the federal Liberal Party in relation to a number of very important matters of federal law that the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission highlighted in their recent report. It is pleasing to see that, in addition to the range of other areas that have now been confined to the political dustbin of history, the federal Liberal Party is going to move forward on these important issues. I look forward to the incoming Rudd Labor government addressing the 58 areas of legislation in the federal arena that are discriminatory.

I am very pleased that the Attorney-General here, Mr Corbell, has indicated a desire to move ahead with the civil partnerships bill. These are important reforms for the ACT and for the nation. There is certainly a renewed sense of optimism within the gay and lesbian community in Canberra and Australia at the change of government. I hope that the local Liberal Party will take their lead from the federal Liberal Party in the change of direction that the federal leader has indicated.

I have to admit disappointment at one of Mr Smyth's remarks across the chamber during question time today—that civil union was not an important issue at all for the ACT. That was a bit disappointing and that little interjection was unfortunate. It is disappointing that those who march in Mardi Gras with the Canberra gay and lesbian community do not back that up with their votes in this place. I have had the opportunity to march in the parade and to attend it on a number of occasions. Most importantly, as a representative in this place, I vote for what I believe in.

Tharwa bridge

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (6.22): I would like to congratulate Mr Pratt on his stunning success in bringing John Hargreaves and the Stanhope Labor government to heel over the Tharwa bridge. For those who are not aware of it, at 5.22 this afternoon the Chief Minister, the minister with responsibility for heritage, released a press release saying that the government will now consult. So, 12 months after the decision, the government will now consult with the community about the future of the Tharwa bridge. I think it is a vindication of all those Tharwa residents who have campaigned long and hard. I refer particularly to Mr Pratt, and the hundreds if not thousands of people that have signed Mr Pratt's petition calling on the government to save the Tharwa bridge.

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