Page 4777 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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system and put it to bed once and for all. It is a bit morbid, really. There are many people in this country who are concerned about the future direction of education, as am I, not just Kevin Donnelly.

Something else brings me to my feet tonight, in the last sitting week before Christmas. I know it is really difficult in the utopian paradise created by Jon Stanhope for backbenchers to obtain much relevance, but I think the “lights out, please” foray of Ms Porter this week has been singularly unfortunate in the festive season. In terms of stating the bleeding obvious—that neighbours should be considerate to one another—it is a pretty thin measure indeed on which to put out a press release.

In the socialist utopia being created by Jon Stanhope, I hope that this is not the beginning of the regulation of Christmas lights, as seems to be being proposed by Ms Porter. I hope that the Stanhope government executive will distance themselves considerably from the proposal that we should regulate Christmas lights. Even with my passions about greenhouse gas emissions I think that, from time to time, a few low-energy lights brighten up the place and express some Christmas cheer—and I use the term “Christmas cheer”. I hope members of this place will not start referring to “the holiday season”. I am quite happy for Ms MacDonald to refer to Hanukkah, but for us it is Christmas.

I think that the Grinch-like outburst from Ms Porter yesterday was entirely inappropriate. There should be no regulation of Christmas lights. Most neighbours get on perfectly well and appreciate the efforts gone to in their neighbourhood to spread a bit of Christmas spirit. I think the intervention by Ms Porter was inappropriate.


MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.38): I want to speak on volunteering. The international day of volunteers was celebrated around the world on 5 December, as it is every year. Through my ministerial portfolios I see the outstanding work done by volunteers in our community. I would like to take this opportunity to recognise some of this endeavour and to acknowledge the volunteers who carry out the work.

Volunteers provide many of Canberra’s essential services, such as services provided to the frail aged and people with disabilities, primary health programs, environmental conservation, heritage protection and restoration, services to young persons at risk and the homeless, education, sport and recreation, and, of course, emergency services.

As members are aware, the Canberra community is one of the most diverse communities in Australia. Last weekend we held a multicultural summit, which was attended by nearly 400 people. Many community events are organised across Canberra each year by volunteers from the many cultural and language groups. Other events, such as the National Multicultural Festival, the National Folk Festival and the heritage festival, could not be staged either without the assistance of thousands of volunteers. Indeed, tourism in our city relies heavily on the work of volunteers in conducting events such as Floriade. Volunteers act as guides and explainers in all the major national capital attractions in the ACT.

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