Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5145 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
Fixing 26 January as the day that sums up who we are as a nation seems rather limited. It was the date the First Fleet arrived with its boatloads of convicts. I find it a little curious that the Liberal Party has chosen that event to be given such a high level of funding and attention as opposed to all the other dates of national significance to the community. Youth Week is a great event that celebrates our youth culture and gives them an opportunity to promote who they are and what they want to achieve. That event receives minimal funding from the ACT government. I hope the ACT government puts more money into events like that in the future.
I cannot support this motion. Today we have had enumerated all the different festivities, funded by the National Capital Authority and supported by the ACT government, that are already happening to support and celebrate Australia Day. Our funding resources should be better targeted on community events rather than just focusing on one day.
Many Canberra residents I know either head to the coast for the Australia Day weekend or have a barbecue with family and friends. They build their own communities in their own way. I think we should support that. It is a good way to spend Australia Day. We need to focus on the history of Australia Day and what it means to many Australians. There are those who view it as invasion day, a tragic mar on our history. The United Kingdom came to what they thought was terra nullius and took it over without considering the impact it would have on the natives.
Over the past 200-odd years the indigenous people of Australia have had to endure horrible tragedies. One of the disappointing things about Australia Day is that the federal government has missed the opportunity over the last 200 years, but specifically over the last six years, to say sorry to the indigenous population for what happened.
I see the point the opposition is making about supporting and promoting Australia Day festivities, but there are many other days in Australia's calendar that are just as worthy of support. We cannot be fixated on one day-26 January.
MRS BURKE (6.16): I have been listening to this debate with interest. While I was reading some background to further what I want to say, Mr Wood was reading from the web site "Australia Day. Celebrate what's great". I thoroughly endorse his comments. Under the heading "Our diversity: it is stated:
A nation of difference and unity. People from the city, the country, different nations and backgrounds; we are one people, living together. Through our diverse beliefs and experiences we learn from each other and grow together.
I am an import to this country. Having come from England, I realise the background of this country and I do not wish to get into a political debate about it at all. We cannot ignore it, but we have to use this day to celebrate all that is good about Australia and move forward. I have spoken to several Aboriginal elders and I know that they would be of that mind too. We should not forget, but we should move forward in a very positive way. We need to be united. We should not dwell on the past and keep holding onto the baggage that pulls us down and almost gives us this self-deprecating feeling of being worthless. Let us move on and move forward positively.