Page 1024 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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The government is to be commended for supporting events such as Canberra’s birthday celebrations and the celebrations to follow in the next 10 days. I wish also to recognise the financial assistance provided by ACTTAB to make our 92nd birthday one to remember. As I said, the weekend events were a great success and we have more to follow. I am sure that all of us are enjoying, as Ms MacDonald said, the balloons that greet us each morning; they are such a wonderful sight. So I am happy to join Ms MacDonald in congratulating all those who organised the events for the day and I join with her in saying it was indeed a wonderful event.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (4.16): I am very happy to speak to this matter of public importance, too, and I thank members for their contribution to it. I thank, in particular, Dr Foskey for her very thoughtful commentary on the issues we face as a community, in celebrating as a community and acknowledging the role that community celebrations can play in providing some opportunities to enhance social capital within the territory.

It is notable that Dr Foskey touched on a significant number of issues that I think are very important and are important for us to debate. To that extent, I reject the position put by the Liberal Party in this debate, that this is not a matter worthy of consideration. Dr Foskey raised issues around community connection and the potential that people that are disadvantaged or on the edge do not have many opportunities to participate in the life of the community. Those particular issues can be sought to be addressed through a determination to provide a framework around which we as a community can come together.

Social isolation and disconnection are very, very much at the heart of our capacity to participate in the life of communities. One incidence of disadvantage is, of course, an inability or an incapacity to join with fellow residents, fellow citizens, and to get from life, society or community many of those things that others of us take for granted. That was part and parcel of the rationale for an enhanced program of community celebration and community coming together, represented through the social plan and now being brought into some reality through the program for celebrating Christmas in the heart of the city, the enhanced New Years’ Eve celebrations, a thoughtful and broad program of events around Australia Day, leading into the Multicultural Festival, and at this stage culminating through the Celebrate Canberra 10-day festival. But it should not end there and it does not end there.

The points that Dr Foskey makes are points, I have to say, that are very much alive in my thinking around the extent to which we have come full circle in relation to a potential divide between the Multicultural Festival and Canberra Day. Longer-term residents of Canberra will recall the history of these two events. They did have a coming together some years ago, and then a separation. I, too, have been aware of the fact that the Multicultural Festival only concluded some two or three weeks ago and here we are launching into a significant additional festival. I am also conscious of the potential to create a division and that it not be seen that there is a festival for people that identify as having an ethnic or multicultural heritage or background and then another festival for the rest of Canberra. I think that would be a real pity and something to be avoided. We need

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