Page 246 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004
flag over the federal parliament is not something with which I agree. We should not do that. So I will move an amendment shortly for the removal of paragraph (3).
In terms of paragraph (4), if Mr Gentleman is keen enough he will write to all of the calendar producers and they will, of course, start to include it in their calendar production. That is how these things normally start. The producers of calendars pick and choose what data they put into their calendars. Unfortunately for us, a great proportion of the large, glossy calendars that are sold in this country are printed overseas. I would commend that to Mr Gentleman. If he can get all the American, Japanese and Chinese printed calendars to include a reference to Eureka day, I would be very happy.
At this point, Mr Speaker, I will move the amendment circulated in my name. I move:
Omit paragraph (3).
MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (12.15): I congratulate Mr Gentleman for moving this motion. It is very timely that we acknowledge on the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade the significance of recognising the event in the national capital. The response from the Canberra community to the flying of the flag on City Hill, Commonwealth Avenue and Northbourne Avenue has been outstanding.
The beauty and the symbolism of that flag strike many people in our community, regardless of their background, because it is a truly Australian flag. It is without reference to other cultures or other countries. It is a flag of Australia. I think that that is why people find that it resonates so strongly for them.
The motion, as Mr Gentleman has outlined, goes to all of the issues that are important around marking this anniversary. I want to take issue with some of the points made by the Leader of the Opposition. History is, of course, an issue of debate and the significance and meaning of events are always debated amongst historians as well as amongst the broader community. Eureka Stockade is no different from that.
Yes, you could argue that it was a revolt by those who felt that they were being taxed unfairly, that they were being harshly treated by an unresponsive and undemocratic government. Equally, you could argue that it had undertones of something more than that—that it had undertones of an aspiration for self-government, an aspiration for representation of a broader range of interests than those that currently existed and was really a challenge to the authority of the ruling elite at the time.
You could argue either and you could argue both. I think that the beauty of the Eureka story and why it remains such a matter of interest is that it is contentious. But I refute Mr Smyth’s rather simplistic claim that it is a case of one side hijacking it away from the truth. The reality is that truth is what the public debate is all about and there is no absolute truth to the story. It is how we view it, it is how we assess it, and it is what values we place on it generations after the event.
Turning to paragraph (3) very quickly, there was a real lack of willingness by the federal government to engage in the issue. The Prime Minister, who is well-known for his willingness to appear at nationalistic events, chose not to participate in the Eureka