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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5150 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

are looking at individual agendas. They are coming across as bitter and negative souls who need help. I am concerned that people knock anything that is either not their idea or does not have their name on it, such as the Australia Day celebrations; they use it as the basis for simply cancelling it-the federal government is doing something, let's not worry.

"Why should I worry,"the Chief Minister says. Many of us will think about why it is not such a good thing being an Australian today. Frankly my message to those people is: if you do not think that it is worthy being an Australian, leave. Don't stay. At the end of the day we take our countries for the good, the bad and the ugly. If we want to make a difference-

MR SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.

Sitting suspended from 6.33 to 8.00 pm.

MRS DUNNE (8.00): Mr Speaker, it is a shame, as Mrs Cross said, that we have to rise and speak today in support of the Australian character, Australian nationalism and Australia's national day. I was not surprised by the fact that some members have raised that people feel a little uncomfortable about Australia Day. The Chief Minister spoke about it the other day and Ms Dundas spoke about it today.

But I'm sorry, Mr Speaker; 26 January is Australia Day. If people do not think that it is appropriate we celebrate our national identity and have our national day on Australia Day, they should go about changing that. But until it is changed, Australia Day is our national day. We have other days of commemoration and there is always a tug at the heartstrings on Anzac Day. In many ways Anzac Day is a much more emotional day. But Australia Day is the day on which we celebrate what it means to be Australian. And for me, as for almost everybody in this country, that is about celebrating everything about Australia.

The Chief Minister the other day-Mrs Cross brought this up-talked about all the bad things, and there are bad things in any nation's history. We are a fortunate nation because those bad things, by comparison with other nations, are few and far between. What we have to celebrate is something about which I think all Australians can be proud. We are here in this place because we are a free democracy and we have been a free democracy for a very long time. We came to being a free democracy not by the force of arms but by the force of the will of the people who populate this country.

We are a free democracy and we celebrate that. Sometimes we might not agree with what governments do. It is our job to participate in the debate because that is what we do in a democracy. But we do not spend our time trying to run down our nationhood, our nationality and what it means to be Australian.

Most of us, Mr Speaker, who have had the privilege to travel will always say that there might be a hundred different places that you would like to visit but it is always great to come home. It is great to get on that Qantas plane, hear that slightly jarring accent and know that you are on your way home. This is what Australia Day is about-whether it is in the national capital, where it is proposed that we have a picnic in a park, or at a hundred little villages across the country.

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