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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 24 August 1995) . . Page.. 1447 ..


ADJOURNMENT

Motion (by Mr Humphries) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Wattle Day

MR BERRY (3.53): It is with pleasure that I speak in the adjournment debate today. What I am going to say comes from a project that was undertaken by a high school student in my office. For a couple of hours once a week for a few weeks he was involved in the research and development of a speech in relation to Wattle Day. The events leading to the proclamation of Wattle Day involve a long tale of dedicated work from a broad spectrum of the Australian community - not just botanists, but many different Australians from many different backgrounds.

As early as the 1890s different clubs, groups and associations were campaigning for the wattle to become our national floral emblem and for Wattle Day to become recognised. One of these was the Wattle Club founded in 1899 by Archibald Campbell. The Wattle Club promoted a Wattle Day demonstration every September to encourage recognition of the flower as a symbol of patriotism. In Sydney in 1901 the first day of September was declared Wattle Day, and the concept was taken up in Victoria in 1910 and South Australia in 1911. Later, 1 August came to be known as Wattle Day in New South Wales. In 1913 Prime Minister Fisher opened a Federal Wattle Day conference in Melbourne, marking the inauguration of a movement fraught with vast patriotic possibilities.

The wattle has become one of Australia's most recognisable symbols. Our national colours are green and gold, the same as the wattle. Acacia blooms are on our coat of arms. But there was no formal proclamation of the golden wattle as our national emblem until 1 September 1988. Acacia pygnantha, the golden wattle, is a spreading shrub or small tree which grows in the understorey of open forest woodland and scrub in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. In spring large fluffy golden flower heads with up to 100 sweetly scented flowers provide a vivid contrast to the bright green foliage.

On 24 August 1992 Bill Hayden, the Governor-General, declared that 1 September each year be observed as National Wattle Day throughout Australia. This ended the long battle to have the wattle recognised as our floral emblem and Wattle Day celebrated nationally. There is, however, one hiccup. As part of the promotion of Wattle Day, the seeds of the Acacia pygnantha were sent to individual groups. This has had to be stopped in Western Australia, where the Acacia pygnantha is a noxious plant. I offer my thanks to the young man who did the research for me and put that speech together. I will have a bit of a yarn to him about putting a bit more sting into it.


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