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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 946 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Wood urged the Minister for Education not to abandon the vision that Miss Curley had put before him in most emphatic terms. I would certainly not have dared to depart from her vision during her lifetime, and I am not entirely satisfied that it is safe to do so even after her death. Mr Speaker, I think it is worth while preserving that vision and carrying it forward and ensuring that Mugga Mugga becomes everything that Miss Curley hoped of it and dreamed of it. It is a reflection of her life and the remarkable civic mindedness she showed to the citizens of this Territory. That would certainly be an enduring memorial, as well as the buildings and artefacts which remain at Mugga Mugga.

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I join my colleagues on both sides of the house and the crossbenches in supporting this condolence motion. Like many of us in this place, I had the honour of being lectured by Miss Sylvia Curley. One lecture I continually received was on the naming of a bridge in the Fyshwick area known as Dairy Flat bridge. She believed it should bear a name honouring her family. I note that her wishes have been complied with, and I commend the Chief Minister for that.

We have lost a great Canberran and a great Australian. Although her profession was nursing, she would have made a wonderful advocate for any cause. Indeed, she would have been a wonderful headmistress, given the lectures I received over the years. We are saddened by the loss of this great person. I will certainly miss Miss Curley and the talks that we had over the years. I support the motion.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services): Mr Speaker, on 24 November last year this chamber paused to acknowledge, and write into our record a tribute to, one of the most senior and loved citizens of Canberra, Miss Sylvia Curley, who that month was celebrating her 100th birthday. Today we pause again, and rightly so, this time to mourn her passing but I think also to reflect joyously on her life and pay tribute to that great life. It is a life she so accurately summed up in the title of her autobiography published last year, A long journey. It is with sadness that we note the end of Miss Curley's journey, but all who have spoken here this morning acknowledge that it was a full life and a happy life. It was a life that was well travelled and well planned. It was an unselfish life, one devoted to caring for others. In every respect it was a truly remarkable journey by any measure. Moreover, it was a journey devoted to ensuring that Canberrans and visitors to our city would always be reminded that Canberra did not grow merely as the result of an administrative stroke of a pen; that it had a rich life and a heritage before the birth and growth of the national capital as we know it now.

Miss Curley was born at Duntroon on 8 November 1898, moving with her family to Mugga Mugga in 1913. After leaving school she studied nursing and became deputy matron of the former Royal Canberra Hospital, where she worked for almost 30 years. On retiring - retiring from the hospital, certainly not retiring from employment - in 1966, at the age of 68, she started her second career, as she called it, as an employment consultant with a particular emphasis on finding jobs for young people. At the same time she worked to other visions and other dreams. In ceding the family farm at Mugga Mugga to Canberra to ensure its preservation and to deliver on a family pledge, Miss Curley said:

It is not for me that you will be doing this; there is nothing personal in it; it is for the future students and adults of Australia.

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