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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1724 ..

What I am pleased to be able to say is that from where we were in 2006 to where we are now there is a much greater sense of pride in this city. We have high-quality, authentic and world-class tourism experiences; and we live in the city that has been regularly, by many different sources, named as, if not the best then, amongst the top five cities in the world to live in on almost any measure. That is something to be proud of. It has not just happened by accident. It has been a long-term project. We look forward to building on that.

I think this motion, and the ideas within it, present a great way to take a further step to promote Canberra and to reinforce the things that are unique about this city. Thank you, Dr Paterson, for bringing this forward today. I hope it receives the unanimous support of colleagues in the Assembly. That would be a really important next step in our city’s journey. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (3.23): I want the Assembly to take a walk through our national capital’s wonderful history, in particular a piece of art that is a favourite of many people in our great city. I refer to the larger-than-life bronze sculpture of the former Labor Prime Minister John Curtin and his treasurer, later Prime Minister, Ben Chifley—two men walking deep in conversation from the Hotel Kurrajong back to what is now the Old Parliament House after lunch. The sculpture is based on a photo that was taken in 1945 and is located at the spot where the snap was taken. It was made by the outstanding artist Peter Corlett, who is also applauded for Simpson and his Donkey, the sculpture outside the War Memorial.

Members might know that the iconic heritage-listed Hotel Kurrajong first opened in 1926, when our nation’s capital began. The hotel was designed by the Commonwealth Chief Architect, John Smith Murdoch, who also designed what is now the Old Parliament House. The hotel first housed staff transferred from Melbourne to set up our new parliament. It continued as a home for our federal politicians and public servants for decades to follow.

Like so many cherished buildings in our capital, the Hotel Kurrajong’s corridors are steeped in political democratic history. The hotel’s website boasts of a lounge that is filled with books and artworks on the city’s political history and leaders. The website remarks that the hotel team consider themselves proud custodians of its heritage. Our light on the hill Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, lived at the Hotel Kurrajong throughout his parliamentary career, including his four years as Prime Minister, until his death in 1951. He preferred it to the Lodge, and he basked in his morning 700-metre walk to the office.

Dr Paterson’s motion speaks about Canberra’s brand, image and identity. It suggests that our national capital status, the fact that we are the seat of federal parliament, is somehow holding us back from achieving our full marketing potential, or something like that; and that the political blood pouring from the house on the hill is a pollutant, a brake on what Canberra could be, impeding the progress we could make. That seems to be the message from the Labor-Greens government on this motion.

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