Page 1826 - Week 05 - Thursday, 2 April 2009

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MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.03): I rise to speak about Tharwa. Tharwa is the other well-known village in the ACT. Tharwa has suffered under the Stanhope-Gallagher government. Tharwa is a town that was left to its own devices on the eve of the fires in 2003. It had its bridge closed. There was that very sad accident as a consequence of the extra trip that had to be made by residents each day on a much longer route and we later found that the bridge did not have to be closed, that it could have been renovated and reopened much quicker. But that is the standard of capital works under the Stanhope-Gallagher government.

The devastating point in Tharwa’s recent history, though, is the closure of the school. It was a special school. It catered not only for the kids in the area, the kids from the farms and from the village itself, but also for children from the surrounding suburbs in Tuggeranong, people who wanted their children in a smaller school or in a school with a slightly different attitude to schooling than will be found in the bigger suburban primary schools. They enjoyed that school. With the bridge closure and now the subsequent closure of the school itself, that is denied them.

This has had a tremendous impact on the village itself, on the economy of the village. You only have to talk to the local store holder, Mr Jeffery, to know what effect losing the school and having the bridge closed for a couple of years has had on his business and the services that have been able to be provided to the village. But Tharwa is resilient and I do not think the community will give up. They certainly have not given up, but they have to question their government’s attitude to them and why it is that they have been the target and the victim of so much ill will from the Stanhope-Gallagher Labor government.

I think it is important that we understand the place of these historic villages in our history, as has been outlined by many on the value of Hall. Tharwa has a similar history for the southern parts of Canberra and, indeed, the school was always a focal point of that. It is where the community met well before modern transport existed. It is where the community met well before the creation of Canberra and particularly well before the creation of Tuggeranong. In that regard the school has been at the hub of Tharwa as a community. That hub is now denied them and one can only wait long term to see what happens with the future of Tharwa. It is sad to lose it. Cuppacumbalong is there.

It is sad to lose the sense of village that has occurred because of the events, but through things like the rural fire brigade unit stationed there at Tharwa you see that the community spirit is alive. I will certainly keep a watch on it. I know the residents themselves are waiting to see how the community itself will develop. I think we all should be interested in that—the history and the anchor to our past that Tharwa provides, and indeed Hall provides as well in the north—because if we lose that, if we lose a sense of where we have been, we will be worse off in the places where we may end up as a community. Tharwa is a very important village, particularly to southern Canberra.

I thank Ms Hunter for bringing on this matter of public importance today. In terms of all the villages, the Uriarra settlements, and indeed places like Urambi Village, which

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