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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1727 ..

To be our national capital is a badge of honour for Canberrans. To seek to revise or dilute that with motions about brand image and identity is a real concern. Staff at the Hotel Kurrajong see themselves as proud custodians of its heritage. The Canberra Liberals and most Canberrans salute them and share their pride in our illustrious heritage. Our national capital status is at the heart of who we are, what we stand for and what we promote, as our magnificent bronze statue of those revered leaders Curtin and Chifley so movingly remind us.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (3.34): I welcome this motion from Dr Paterson and reiterate the Chief Minister’s comment about the government’s support.

What could be more appropriate for our bush capital than to explore becoming part of the new national park city movement? The National Park City Foundation states:

A National Park City recognises the value of urban life, habitats, landscapes, people and culture, and seeks to apply appropriate National Park principles to whole cities.

It is not just about a brand; it is about an identity and about who we are. The foundation has put forward this working vision:

A National Park City is a place, a vision and a community. It is a city that is cared for through both formal and informal means to enhance its living landscape. A defining feature is the widespread and significant commitment of residents, visitors and decision-makers to act so people, culture and natural processes provide a foundation for better life.

This statement could have been written to describe the Canberra community and the love of our city and its surrounds.

As I noted in a ministerial statement to the Assembly in May, nature is the foundation of our city’s wellbeing and is integral to our city’s design. We all celebrate our living infrastructure, from our expansive national parks and reserves to our urban parks and connected green spaces embedded within city areas. Canberrans emphatically declare their love of our natural areas by volunteering thousands of hours of their own time to help maintain our parks, to monitor wildlife and the health of our waterways and lakes, and to enhance the visibility and appreciation of our heritage.

During National Reconciliation Week, I want to particularly highlight the debt we owe to the traditional custodians and first people, the Ngunnawal people, and other First Nations people of this region who cared for this country for thousands of years before colonisation. Exploring whether to become a national park city can only enhance our efforts to more deeply engage with and celebrate Aboriginal cultures. It is another opportunity to acknowledge and reconcile the harms perpetrated on First Nations people and the country they manage that we now jointly live on and to learn from them to work in harmony with our natural environment and embed its benefits into our city.

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