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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 25 September 2007) . . Page.. 2606 ..

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Holidays (Canberra Day) Amendment Bill 2007

Debate resumed from 8 March 2007, on motion by Mr Barr:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.12): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting the Holidays (Canberra Day) Amendment Bill 2007. Canberra Day is an important day on the calendar, not just because it is a welcome three-day weekend but because it celebrates Canberra’s birthday. I believe that the vibrancy of the Canberra community is often understated. Certainly beyond Canberra’s borders our community at times receives a bad rap. Canberra Day is an important day for the community. It is a time of celebration, a day to reflect on how vibrant and how strong the ACT community is.

The long weekend is valued by, I would suggest, all Canberra residents, although many take one of the few remaining opportunities before winter to travel to the coast or other destinations, whilst many others stay in Canberra and enjoy time with families, friends and neighbours and the various activities that are going on around the lake. In addition to the hundreds of barbecues, picnics and get-togethers, the weekend has traditionally been marked by a range of public events and celebrations. The Black Opal Stakes racing carnival has in the past been held on this weekend and I know that many supporters of the racing community in the ACT are very much looking forward to the return of the carnival in 2008, all going well.

Other events, like the official celebrations provided by the government, are enjoyed by many Canberrans, although I must hasten to point out that these publicly-funded celebrations should not be a priority of the ACT government. I am concerned at times at the level of government-sponsored celebration, that we soon cannot have any event. We are down to now having an officially sanctioned Fathers Day and an officially sanctioned Mothers Day; they have to be public formal events. It starts to have a little bit of the ring of North Korea to it but we have not quite gone that far. I certainly think that, for a government that says it is struggling to fund services, we need to wonder whether or not we are better to let the private sector step into the breach, if possible. If it is not interested, then we need to think very carefully about the level of outlay in this regard, but I am sure we will see a lot of that in the next 12 months.

The people of Canberra have shown time and time again that they are more than capable of entertaining themselves. At a time of increased taxation, the government should review its taxpayer-funded events program. We do not need to fund extravagant celebrations. I would also make the point—

Mr Stanhope: Like Christmas in the city.


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