Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1725 ..
The Canberra Liberals disagree. Along with many Canberrans, the Canberra Liberals respect, cherish and celebrate our history—our rich tapestry of political history on display across our city in so many diverse, vibrant and creative ways, such as our towering Curtin and Chifley figures and other gems like those revealed in a Canberra secrets tour that I recommend to Assembly members.
Good luck to this ACT government with campaigning to promote our city to lure more tourists and residents. But let us not for one moment seek to make light of, revise or dilute our identity, which is steeped in the fact that we are Australia’s proud national capital, announced on 12 March 1913 by the Governor-General’s wife, Lady Denman.
We are a national capital, the seat of national government, the place where critical decisions are made that affect all Australians, not least decisions made by Labor luminaries like Curtin and Chifley who steered our country through war, showing courage and steely determination. We are a national capital boasting a strong skilled army of federal public servants, more than 55,000 of them based in Canberra, according to a 2018 report. We have an array of impressive national institutions, including the War Memorial, the National Gallery, the National Archives, the National Electoral Education Centre and Old Parliament House. The list goes on. The Canberra Liberals would not have it any other way; nor would other Canberrans.
I turn to the motion about Canberra’s brand, image and identity. While so many Canberrans shiver in cold rentals with no heating or live in substandard public housing, while many struggle with punishing rate hikes and cost-of-living increases and while many Canberrans make a valiant effort to keep their small businesses afloat, the Labor-Greens government elected to represent them show how out of touch they are by raising issues that could not be more removed from the day-to-day reality of Canberrans.
Australians are smart. They overwhelmingly back Canberra as our national capital. An Australia Institute survey of almost 1,500 Australians in February found that people believe Canberra should remain the capital, the Prime Minister should live in the Lodge, and politicians should spend more time in Canberra. Almost 70 per cent of respondents believed that parliament should sit for more days each year. Clearly Australians respect our federal parliament; the important role of law making; and the democratic beacon that is Canberra, our national capital. As is often the case, the Labor-Greens government is out of step and out of touch with many Australians and what they hold dear.
The motion refers to media that sometimes portray Canberra as being nothing more than the seat of federal politics. It is not surprising that in media reports about federal political issues, journalists and commentators refer to Canberra, the home of federal parliament. Dr Paterson has said that this is annoying. In a radio interview on Tuesday, she remarked that this motion would divorce us from Parliament House. She added, “We are so much more than Parliament House and the politicians that go there.”