Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5138 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
stopped. No-one has given a valid excuse as to why the government has stopped this funding.
I think it is sad that the government is willing to let Australia Day in the national capital go it alone. It is sad that the committee is willing to tell the government that it was not interested in the late advice. The committee rang on the morning of 30 October to find out where its application was and was told that a decision had not been made. Yet the letter Mr Wood sent to it saying that there was no money is dated 30 October. I do not know what happened between the phone call and the signing of the letter. Clearly people did not know what they were doing and what was going on, and a great community event has been put at risk because of the inactivity, laziness and ineptitude of this government.
Australia Day is an important day-a day that we should question ourselves and ask where we are going. We should look at where we have been and what has occurred in this country. We should celebrate the good things, the things that bring us together; we should celebrate our diversity; and we should celebrate publicly. This government denies us that opportunity.
MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (5.43): Just before Mr Smyth concluded his speech he got onto the conspiracy side of things-the notion that somehow we want to change the way things are done. That is not the case. Mr Smyth was more correct when he was talking about what Australia Day means to Australians and to people on this side of the Assembly. The people that make these recommendations are very proud about Australia Day and what it is to acknowledge that important day.
Australia Day is a day to reflect on what it means to be Australian-a day when individuals and communities get together to celebrate what is great about Australia and being Australian. It is a day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our nation. It is a day of great meaning-a day for us to recommit to making it an even better place in the future. These are all things that we believe in.
The ACT government support the celebration of Australia Day. We welcome the recent announcement by the National Capital Authority of its major Australia Day concert-it was well known and had been well promoted for a long period before these decisions were made by us-and the announcement that the Australian of the Year ceremony would be held in Canberra. The authority hopes that this will be a yearly event in Canberra. The aim of the major concert is to promote Mr Howard as much as anything. It is highly appropriate and meaningful that this ceremony is held in Canberra. It is about time Mr Howard started paying some attention to Canberra and the significance of this city. This is belated recognition.
Mr Smyth's motion seems to be suggesting that somehow the ACT government is not supporting Australia Day by not making one grant from the festival fund for one specified activity, just one of a number of activities that Australia Day in the National Capital Inc is proposing to undertake as part of its program for the day.
Australia Day in the National Capital Inc, an independent organisation, sought $50,000 through the festival fund for a concert and associated fireworks to be held in the