Page 2812 - Week 08 - Thursday, 11 August 2016

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In regard to seeking to change the meaning of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, whilst I recognise that there are mixed views amongst all in our community as to whether or not Australia should remain under the monarchy, I did think that, as the survey and the community consultation that has occurred thus far described it, some see changing the Queen’s Birthday holiday as republicanism by stealth.

The most inclusive and the most accepting way forward—as the report states, the Family and Community Day is perceived as a day currently with no meaning—is to change the meaning of it and actually give it a proper purpose. This would seek to achieve the outcome that Dr Bourke is hoping to achieve in recognising the significant contribution and the history and the way forward with our Indigenous Australians.

I think it is also diligent to point to the significant amount of work that still needs to be done in actually building awareness and acceptance of a change like this in the broader community. Whilst the results from the report that was tabled on Tuesday of the consultation outcomes overwhelmingly support the changes to introduce a Reconciliation Day public holiday, the scope of the consultation was, in terms of the community, quite narrow. We have only had 150 online responses, and 94 submissions were received. For a community that is nearing 400,000, that is only a very small segment of the community that has actually been consulted on and discussed this matter.

I note that Dr Bourke’s motion seeks to create the holiday in 2018 but for next year, 2017, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo ruling, I think supporting and recognising those milestones in Australia’s history would go some significant way to raising and increasing the profile of a Reconciliation Day holiday into the future.

The only other mention I would make is that I would imagine there will be quite a vexed discussion by many in the community as to what is the appropriate time of year to hold such a significant day of observation and recognition. Just looking at the mix of holidays generally scheduled in the territory, most of them are front-loaded into the first half of the year: New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Canberra Day, the Easter weekend and also Anzac Day all falling prior to the end of April.

The Queen’s Birthday is currently in June. As I have discussed, there would be strong reservations by many in the community, particularly in the opposition, that the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and the Queen’s Birthday public holiday should remain as it is. Family and Community Day currently is a week prior to the October Labour Day holiday, and that has at times caused many frustrations for business, having two public holidays so close together. Perhaps there is an opportunity to discuss where it should be most appropriately placed. I look forward to those discussions in the next parliament. I hope to be part of those discussions.

As I said, the opposition will be supporting Dr Bourke’s motion today. We are happy with the intent and we think it is an appropriate recognition, whilst there is a lot more to be done in the process of reconciliation in our community locally and a lot more needs to be done, as I mentioned in the appropriation debate earlier this week, about

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