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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5137 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

This shows that there is another motive. Maybe the minister would explain what the real motive is in getting rid of Australia Day in the nation's capital. The rollout of different explanations, all of which have enormous holes in them, is extraordinary. When you look at each of them in the close light of day, none holds water.

Paragraph (4) "calls on the ACT Government to restore funding to the Australia Day in the National Capital Committee as a matter of priority". The shame is that it may be too late for some of these events. Part of the event was to involve ACT schoolchildren so that they could be part of the Australian journey, learn about their history, participate in the celebration and help spread the message that together-united-we are a wonderful country.

That opportunity has now gone because (1) there is no funding and (2) the denial of funding came so late that the committee was unable then to go ahead with the development of the Australian journey and train the schoolchildren. We have a government that is against schoolchildren learning about and participating in the celebration of Australia Day. What a miserable bunch!

If you add all of that up, what you have is a synopsis of a government that is not paying attention to what it does. It is interesting to read a letter from a public servant to the committee. It says, "Your application was peer-assessed by the ACT Festival Fund Assessment Committee."How do you peer-assess Australia Day when there is only one Australia Day ceremony? It is not like any other festival or any other event.

The letter from the committee to Mr Wood refutes much of what has been said by the minister over the last couple of days. Either somebody is telling porkies or something did not happen. If you read the letter to Mr Wood it clearly shows that all of the excuses that were made, all of the reasons that were given, are easily refuted.

Paragraph (5), the last paragraph of the motion, is a warning note. It says that the Legislative Assembly for the ACT "opposes any moves by the ACT Government to celebrate Australia Day in future years in a way which is inconsistent with the national celebrations". On a radio station the commentator told me that he was quite worried that an apologist view of Australia Day might be taken.

Over the last couple of hundred years certain things have happened in Australia that we are not proud of-there have been atrocities and sadness. Australia Day should be a day of great joy. It should be a day that we can celebrate together. After some of the Chief Minister's outbursts in question time I have concerns over his view of what Australia Day might be and what it might become.

The last point is the government's response to all of this when it was caught out: "We will set up a new process."When will it set up the new process? It will set up some sort of new process not for next year, 2004, but for 2005.

So inept is this government, so out of touch, so uncaring, so unmotivated to make Canberra a better place to live, that it is willing to skip the celebration of Australia Day for a year just because we are not ready, we have not thought about it or we have been caught out-for whatever reason. No-one can reasonably explain why this funding has

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