Page 4455 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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opportunity to write to the various members of the government, the Democrats, the Greens and the Labor opposition in the federal house to show that they believe that we women should have this choice over our bodies, as we should have access to the various ways of delivering children, from home birth to hospital birth.

American Thanksgiving Day

Woden police station

Chief Minister

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo):(6.05): Mr Speaker, as many members would be aware, this week the United States recognises the traditional holiday of Thanksgiving. Considering the close political and social links between the United States of America and Australia, I think it is appropriate that I make a few comments today describing the historic holiday and its importance.

I am fortunate enough to be attending tonight a Thanksgiving dinner hosted in Canberra by the Australian-American Association. This event is an important family holiday in the US, where extended families often join together, literally to give thanks for the fruits of their year’s labours.

Mr Quinlan: You are not going coat tugging again, are you?

MR MULCAHY: Mr Quinlan derides having contact with the Americans who are resident in our city, but a lot of us are not at all ashamed of the great relationship that Australia enjoys with Americans, and what the association has done in Canberra is worthy of support. Thanksgiving is usually celebrated with a turkey dinner, which Mr Quinlan will relate to, and for people of all faiths it is a chance to give thanks for their health, prosperity and the future.

Indeed, this celebration traced its origins back to 1621, when the pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate the bountiful harvest they reaped following their first winter in North America. This event is closely related to the harvest festivals that had very much been a traditional holiday in much of Europe. There were various occasions when that was referred to. I thought it significant that, when this occasion took place in the first recognised gathering, the pilgrims who had settled from Europe in Plymouth in Massachusetts joined with the local population of native Americans to celebrate the outcome of their harvest.

It is an occasion that over the course of history in the United States has served to forge a common national identity. In many ways similar to the way we as Australians draw on the Anzac legend to provide a sense of who we are, the Americans have traditionally associated themselves with the story of Thanksgiving that has developed over the past few centuries.

Whilst the exact nature of the holiday varies from home to home and community to community, the message of thanks is one that is central to all the people of American descent. I therefore think that it is important to take this opportunity to wish the American people, both those who are resident in the Australian Capital Territory and those living elsewhere, sincere goodwill on this day, one of their most important national holidays.

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