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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5134 ..

Australia Day ceremonies

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (5.28): I move:

That the Legislative Assembly for the ACT:

(1) considers it highly important that the ACT Government supports Australia Day ceremonies appropriate to the significance of the day;

(2) welcomes the transfer of the announcement of the Australian of the Year awards to Canberra;

(3) views with great concern the inexplicable decision by the ACT Government not to fund the Australia Day in the National Capital Committee to organise the celebration of Australia Day in 2004;

(4) calls on the ACT Government to restore funding to the Australia Day in the National Capital Committee as a matter of priority so that the ACT can celebrate Australia Day at an appropriate level; and

(5) opposes any moves by the ACT Government to celebrate Australia Day in future years in a way which is inconsistent with the national celebrations.

Australia Day is one of those important days on our calendar. It is a time to come together and celebrate, to rejoice in our diversity and enjoy each other's company or, at the basest level possible, if you just want to sit and enjoy a beer, you can. We have celebrated this occasion in this city for years. This occasion has, for many years, had a public side to it; it has been conducted primarily in Commonwealth Park for those who wanted to come together and celebrate their national day.

This event will not happen in the coming year because the man who is becoming the scrooge of the ACT, Mr Wood, has chosen not to fund Australia Day in the national capital. I am afraid that Canberra is picking up the appellation of Pleasantville: no car races, no fireworks, no funding, half the funding for Clean Up Australia Day, cutbacks on the balloon fiesta and now no funding for Australia Day in the national capital. The defence seems to be: the feds are doing it; why would we duplicate what the feds are doing? The answer simply is that the feds are not doing it.

The feds are not organising a local celebration; they are organising a national introduction to Australia Day. They will run a gala event. All the events they are running are on the day before-25 January-not on Australia Day. They are running all of their events to get Australians warmed up and rearing to go to celebrate Australia Day in the way they see fit. All around this country, in little towns and big cities, city councils and state governments will have funded celebrations for Australia Day, except in the national capital. That is a shame. Mr Wood ought to be ashamed of himself.

Mr Wood: So you think nothing is happening on the day?

MR SMYTH: What is happening is done through the auspices of the community and the goodwill of individuals, not through the financial contribution of the ACT government. The shame of it is that we have had a rolling round of excuses. Initially the excuse was

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