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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 3 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 802..

MR MULCAHY (continuing):

On a more serious note, I repeat my view to the government that this should not become a common practice. ACT government events should not be used to promote the Australian Labor Party or any individual candidate. I make a point of attending as many events as possible, as do other members of this place, and would appreciate invitations to public events designed to recognise important contributions to the Canberra community.

If you want to have an event to support your election campaign, pay for it out of your party funds or your individual funds, but do not use ACT taxpayers' funds to support these events. I think this has been received very poorly. I think it is unfortunate that those who are attending these events as award recipients are denied the opportunity to meet with all of their parliamentary representatives. It appeared on the website, apparently, as an invitation-only event. From what I read, none of the members of the opposition received an invite, nor did Dr Foskey and nor did I; yet there was a full roll-out for the government. It ought to be a matter of embarrassment. I hope that there is some response on this particular point and I hope we can have an assurance that this is the last time this sort of event will occur under these terms.

Mr Don Bell

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.14): I also rise to acknowledge the sad passing of senior Ngunnawal elder Mr Don Bell. I attended Mr Bell's funeral last week, along with other members, as Mrs Burke has already mentioned—Mr Gentleman, yourself, Mr Speaker, Mrs Burke, and Annette Ellis, as the member for Canberra—a large number of members of the Indigenous community and a lot of people from Yass and the ACT.

The number of people who attended the church service and afterwards travelled to the graveside service is a testament to Mr Bell's strong role in the community. Several of his family members reminded us of his strong interest in and his constant devotion to preserving his culture and his language, enabling his large family and his community in general to maintain their cultural heritage. We are all the richer for his devotion to this lifelong task that I experienced on several occasions.

As I have mentioned before, I have been very fortunate to have lived and worked in remote Indigenous communities in the Top End of the Northern Territory for many years. This experience showed me how vitally important the preservation of living culture is to all of us. It also showed me that, without such care and attention, this heritage can be very quickly lost. If it is lost, we are all the poorer.

I am very grateful for Mr Bell's very strong contribution to our community at all levels. As I witnessed last week, the community of Yass also recognised his and his family's wonderful and significant contribution, as did the community of the ACT. I pay my respects to Mr Bell's family—to his wife, Ruth, and to all of his children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.

Mr Don Bell


MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (6.15): I, too, would like to honour Don Bell. I agree with all the comments made by members. I have known Don and Ruth Bell ever

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