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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5156 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

Day on 26 January. It is just that their current government, which we trust will not last beyond the next election, does not believe that this is acceptable.

Mr Hargreaves talks about the Australia Day committee not being representative of the Assembly. Why should it be? I suppose you could say it is. Mr Stefaniak is on it and I know, without mentioning names, some Labor supporters are also members of the committee. So you cannot say it is unrepresentative of the people of the ACT if you are talking about it in political terms. I do not know whether there are any Greens or Democrats there. I am not aware of that, but I do say that we are behaving in a very shabby way if we deny 320,000 people in this city the right to celebrate our national day.

There is something else involved in this. It must be my rhetorical speech or something, but it is interesting that the government members have fled from their seats. The point we have to remember is that this is not just the national capital of Australia. This happens to be home to 320,000 people.

Mr Smyth: My home.

MR CORNWELL: "My home,"said Mr Smyth; and mine, and that of my colleagues here. It is even the home of the members who should occupy the empty government benches. The problem is that we are entitled, not only as Australians who just happen to live in the national capital but as citizens of Canberra, to celebrate our national day. This is being denied us by government for reasons that I can only speculate on, but for which I harbour some very dark suspicions.

MS TUCKER (8.26): I will make some comments on this interesting discussion. I will actually start off this discussion of Australia Day celebrations with a few comments on Christmas. I am inspired by an article that ran in the Australian on 1 December where the Commonwealth minister for multicultural affairs and community harmony called on schools and kindergartens to "set up nativity scenes, throw Christmas parties, and remember the story of the birth of Christ". I do not particularly have a problem with that. Indeed cultural heritage plays an extremely important role in our lives together. But I do have a problem with his rationale. I will quote Sophie Morris's article in a little more detail:

Defining multiculturalism as built on a bedrock of Western Christian values and traditions, the Minister said input from other cultures was welcome but this occurred in a framework established by past generations.

"Our culture, our tradition, are something that has attracted people from all around the world to come and live here and be part of", he said.

"We have an opportunity to learn from the cultures they brought to Australia. But we were here first, our framework was in place because of all of the efforts of previous generations. Our framework is what made it possible for all those people to come and we should never be afraid of it."

"Despite not being a regular church-goer himself, Mr Hardgrave said he felt strongly that Australians should be strong in our faith"and that a return to Christianity's core values would show how to accommodate other religions.

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