Page 1005 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 19 March 2013

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MADAM ACTING SPEAKER: Before I call the leader of the Greens, Mr Rattenbury, I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of a number of distinguished guests, including Mayor Rowena Abbey from the Yass Valley Council and Mayor Tim Overall from the Queanbeyan City Council. I also acknowledge a former member of the House of Assembly, Ken Doyle. On behalf of all members I welcome you here today.

Lastly, I pass on an apology from the patron of the 2013 centenary celebrations, Sir William Deane. He obviously wishes he could be with us today as well.


Debate resumed.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.26): It is with great pleasure that I rise today to support this motion and to wish Canberra, and the people of Canberra, a happy 100th birthday. We have all enjoyed and been buoyed by the celebrations and special events to mark the centenary. I offer my congratulations to the organisers right across the government and the community who I know have worked very hard to deliver successful events and who I know will continue to work hard during the rest of this centenary year 2013.

In celebrating Canberra’s 100th birthday, I want to first pause and reflect on the people who lived here before us—the Indigenous communities that lived on and from this land for thousands of years before white man stepped foot on this continent, let alone this region. In the past 100 years, we have built much and come far. But in the thousands of years before us, Indigenous peoples nurtured and protected this land, impacted lightly on its waterways and grasslands, took gently what they needed from its landscapes, and left native flora and fauna intact. I would like to thank them for the contribution they make to the history of this place, a history that goes back much further than our relatively short history of 100 years.

Building a brand new city on the limestone plains has inevitably had a significant impact on the natural environment. As the city has expanded, there is no doubt that getting the balance between development and environment has been challenging. This year we are celebrating 100 years of this city. A hundred years ago, Canberra was named as the place that would house the centre of governance for the new federation. Bound up with our identity is that Canberra was established as the home of the federal parliament, and the home away from home for our country’s politicians.

In an egalitarian culture such as ours, no-one is afraid to take a pot shot at our national and local leaders and politicians. So Canberra, of course, gets its fair share of animosity, mostly directed towards a parliament that represents all of Australia and a group of people who return to the corners of Australia when the parliament is not sitting.

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