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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 March 2004) . . Page.. 471 ..

MR CORBELL: The government, at the request of Mr O’Keefe, did reconsider his proposal late last year, and the government’s position on the matter has not changed.

Mrs Cross: The Chief Minister’s letter was in January—this year.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Cross!

MR CORBELL: The government has reconsidered the matter and the government’s position has not changed.

Mrs Cross: And did the government write to Madison and tell them?

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Cross!

Citizenship ceremonies

MR PRATT: Chief Minister, today the Canberra Times reported that you will receive a letter from the federal Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs that you are no longer deemed to be a fit person to preside over citizenship ceremonies. Quite correctly, federal Minister Hardgrave has determined that you have selfishly used such occasions to make partisan political comments. Mr Hardgrave has received complaints from recipients at such ceremonies and their family supporters that your emotional political speeches have been unsettling to them and, more importantly, detracted from the occasion. Why weren’t you able to follow the well-established and bipartisan protocol used to conduct citizenship ceremonies all over Australia to celebrate new Australian citizens?

MR STANHOPE: I gave a speech on Australia Day at a citizenship ceremony and it was a very good speech. In that speech I opened with a discussion around the significance of celebrating Australia Day on 26 January for indigenous Australians. As we know, many indigenous Australians—I would think a majority of indigenous Australians—have a real concern that we celebrate as our national day the day on which European settlement commenced in Australia.

I discussed that and I acknowledged the pain of indigenous Australians, I acknowledged the pain that Aboriginal Australians feel at the fact that we as a nation celebrate as our national day the day on which they were dispossessed and, following their dispossession, the 200 years of disadvantage which continues today because of the unfinished road or business of reconciliation.

In the context of that, whilst admitting that for many other Australians 26 January was a day of great celebration, to celebrate this great nation of ours and to celebrate the values which we hold dear and which identify us as Australians, I acknowledged that for indigenous Australians there was an issue around the celebration of Australia Day on 26 January. I think that it would have been extremely discourteous to do other than that.

Mr Hardgrave thinks that that is being political. I think that it is being just as political on Australia Day at a citizenship ceremony to roll up to acknowledge and celebrate this day,

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