Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 975 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
motion. Whilst I am joyful every day for living in Canberra-it is my home, I was born here and I am incredibly proud to represent the people of Canberra-I cannot forget that the situation in Canberra is far from perfect. We are definitely not the social utopia that Paddy McGuinness spoke about. While we celebrate the great things about Canberra, as many have done today, and acknowledge that we live in a fine city, we cannot forget the problems that are also a part of our city.
One of the positive side effects of the events of 18 January was that the nation was able to see the population of Canberra suffering hardship and that we did put on an incredibly brave face and were able to pull together and show the community spirit that we all knew was part of Canberra long before any disaster hit us. It did show to the rest of the nation that the people of Canberra are real, that we are more than just Parliament House.
I hope that that will continue, that the rest of the nation will recognise that there are real people living here and that we do face real issues. We do have a number of problems with the size of Canberra at the moment in that determinations that come out of the federal government sometimes classify us as a major metropolitan city and at other times classify us as a rural or regional centre. The classification depends on whether we will get any resources. It is having an impact on how this city is able to function and how this city is perceived.
We do need to remember, while we celebrate all the great things about Canberra, that we do have each night close to 300 people sleeping roughly on Canberra streets, that we do have a homeless population who were homeless before the bushfires in the ACT, that our crisis accommodation centres are full and are continually turning people away at an ever-increasing rate, that we do have a high level of mental health problems in our city, and that we do need to find a way to support the people of Canberra in their times of need.
It is not rare to find people in Canberra in need. The bushfires have highlighted just what we can do in a time of disaster, but we need to harness the spirit that shone through on those black days and carry it forward, to use a slogan, because there have always been problems in this city and there will continue to be problems in the future. If we can harness that spirit and that togetherness that the community experienced, we can resolve these issues, we can actually build the social utopia that Canberra should be, we can prove to the rest of the nation that we are a city full of people with souls and a city of souls and we can get it right, that we can look after our homelessness problems, that we can look after the emerging health issues, that we can look after our young people, our indigenous population, our aged and all those who are suffering in our city.
While we celebrate Canberra's 90th birthday and, as Mr Hargreaves has suggested, start planning for what will be the mega celebration of the 100th, I do hope that we will take a moment to pause and to regather our strength to continue to work on the issues that face our community in the ACT.
MR PRATT (5.50): I rise to support Mr Hargreaves' motion. Having said that, I would like to point out that I am a bit disappointed that this motion, like too many other motions, has been turned into a bit of a political stalking horse. Some people in this place have found it necessary to mention certain federal politicians and certain federal parties and allege that they have attacked or neglected the ACT community, which is not the case at all.