Page 242 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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No 2, the motion commenced but not yet completed by Mr Gentleman yesterday in relation to the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade, and allow debate on that item, if it is interrupted by the luncheon break, as it probably will be, to recommence after ministerial statements this day.

Amendment agreed to.

Original question, as amended, agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority.

Eureka Stockade—150th anniversary

Debate resumed from 8 December 2004, on motion by Mr Gentleman:

That this Assembly:

(1) congratulates the Stanhope Labor Government on its initiative to fly the Eureka flag over Canberra to mark the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade;

(2) recognises the significance of the events of Eureka to the development of Australian democracy and the enduring relevance of discussion and debate about the foundations and process of our democracy;

(3) expresses its disappointment with the Federal Government’s lack of willingness to engage with the ongoing debate about such a significant point in Australian history; and

(4) calls for the ACT Government to ensure the continuing future commemoration of the Eureka Stockade in the ACT with the introduction of a calendar note from 2004.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (12.03): Commemorating the Eureka Stockade is about recognising some of the agents of that change; but, perhaps more importantly, it is about recognising the benefit to our democracy of contested ideas and ongoing vigorous debate.

For example, the cry of the Italian Raffaello Carboni for the miners to salute the Southern Cross, irrespective of religion, nationality and colour, as the refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on earth remains a contested idea. There are some people who today decry our responsibility to ensure that refugees from all countries on earth can seek sanctuary under the Southern Cross. Ongoing debate and activism have worn down some of those barriers and will continue to challenge the ideas that see refugees behind barbed wire in Australia.

The nature of the Eureka rebellion itself remains contested. Indeed, while the miners of the rebellion demanded manhood suffrage irrespective of religion, nationality and colour, some of their contemporaries were guilty of the most heinous acts of racism against Chinese miners. And the cry of suffrage was not truly universal. In 1903, non-indigenous women were granted suffrage, but it was not until 1967 that indigenous Australians finally achieved the vote.

These were not issues fought for by the miners, but rather arose out of further struggle and debate—radical ideas made reasonable through debate and struggle. The commemoration of Eureka recognises these debates and urges all of us to take forward

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