Page 1144 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2015

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On a technical note, I suggest if you are going to hold a beating of the retreat and you want the public to see it, the retreat should start before darkness. The beating of the retreat is the call to the troops to come back so we can shut the gate. But we shut the gate, the darkness came down and the troops were there performing brilliantly in the dark. I appreciate the need for darkness to get the full effect from the cannon fire, but most of the retreat was done in the dark. If you happen to like the skills that our troops display in their drilling—they are excellent and some people like that sort of thing still—you would not have seen much of it that night. That might have just been first-time blues. I think beating the retreat is a great ceremony, having been to a couple. Mr Hanson has probably been to many.

Mr Hanson: The dark would have been good for me; no-one would have seen me out of step.

MR SMYTH: There you go—the dark would have been good for Mr Hanson because he would not been caught out of step and given extra drills. It was great. There were lots of people down there. That part of the National Library is a beautiful venue. As always, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra was wonderful, and with the dulcet tones of Colonel Ian McLean explaining all the intricacies of drill and the music it was just fantastic. The CSO let Ian conduct for one of the songs, which I think he got particular enjoyment out of, and anybody who was there got a great buzz. But, again, the beating of the retreat has been going for decades. It is a good thing that it has continued.

The motion refers to the growing cultural strengths of the capital. We need to work on them. There are a lot of questions about what are our cultural strengths and what are the things we should be specialising in. Of course, one of the great initiatives of the former Liberal government was the Glassworks. I was the arts minister when we got the funding for that. It took seven years for it to open and the initial setup costs doubled because the then arts minister, Mr Stanhope, did not get it. But I think it is widely acknowledged around the country that Canberra leads in terms of contemporary glass manufacture, and the Glassworks is a great part of that. The existence of places like the Glassworks where we can train, where we can teach, where we can exchange ideas is good. Canberra is the cultural capital; we have that meeting place concept, we come and exchange ideas. That is good. The displays at the Glassworks are always worth seeing, so we need to look at what we do in that regard.

The other thing that is a great cultural strength of the ACT is dance—modern dance, contemporary dance. We have produced some of the greatest dancers and choreographers Australia has ever had, and I am sure we will produce more in the future. One only needs to look at Quantum Leap, which I think on 29 May is doing another run of Reckless Valour. They performed Reckless Valour in the Hall of Remembrance at the War Memorial. A lot of us were a bit nervous about a group of young dancers going into the hall, but what they did was spectacular and they are now going to replay that at the Canberra Theatre. If you want to support the growing cultural strengths of the capital then getting to the Playhouse and the Canberra Theatre to support young performers in particular is incredibly important. Ms Fitzharris, I certainly agree with you that we need to work with the growing cultural strengths of the capital.

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