Page 4222 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 26 November 2013
have a think about it. There are small things I would have done differently but I think, overall, the balance of trying to meet everybody’s interests, trying to project Canberra as the national capital as well as a home to almost 380,000 people was always going to be a challenge over a long period of time. This is a celebration that has gone from February until the end of this year on a limited budget. I think that in many respects we have been able to find the right balance.
With respect to people’s perception of Canberra, for those who have visited, the tourism numbers stack up in that there has been a significant increase in overnight stays this year—not surprisingly, considering the different range of events that have been on. Certainly, the feedback I have had, including from the business community, has been very positive about people’s view of Canberra, the maturing of Canberra, the fact that we have grown considerably from our rural roots in 1913 to a world-class city that all of us can be and should be proud of, that equals any other capital city in the world. There are obviously still areas where we want to improve but I do not think there should be any cringe about Canberra, who we are or what the rest of the country thinks about us.
Part of what we have done this year is to show the extent to which we have matured—the fact that we are much more than just a place where people come and make decisions in the big house. Overwhelmingly, people’s view of Canberra and the centenary year has been positive—perhaps more positive outside Canberra than some of the criticism that we have had from inside.
It would be remiss of me not to finish up by touching on the Skywhale. She has caused quite a stir this year and people have had mixed views around her. But when you go back to what was sought through the commissioning of that artwork, it was to create something that people would talk about, that was artistic, beautiful, short-lived but remembered. Over time, we have already seen in this short year that we have had songs written about her and costumes made of her. She has trended on social media from time to time and there has been extensive media coverage of her around the world. Merchandise of the Skywhale has been requested. But she did exactly what creative art is designed to do. It is to get people to talk, to have a different view perhaps of what people expected of Canberra, to be challenging, to be original and to be thought provoking. She did all of those things.
As we move into the second century, these are the kinds of characteristics we want people to understand about Canberra—that we are original, that we are brave, that we are progressive, that we are thinkers, that we have big ideas. All of these fit very well into where we are heading as a city with our big projects like city to the lake and light rail. All of those are projects that we should be proud of and that will stand our city in good stead in years to come.
DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (4.20): This centenary year has featured a wealth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, culture and talent. I had the opportunity to reflect on that last week when I attended the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Golf Championships here in Canberra for the centenary of Canberra, a championship that has been touring the country for many years—and it was a very successful sporting event. I spoke about the centenary’s Indigenous culture program