Page 5120 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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for the ACT. It is a good choice. It is easily recognisable as an Australian animal. It is a distinctive animal of the Australian high country and has an important story in a conservation sense. Kids will be able to relate to it, and it has important connections with Indigenous traditions and stories.

It is also a success story by ACT Parks and Conservation Service in maintaining the large captive population as a way of reintroducing the southern brush-tailed rock-wallaby to the ACT. It also partners with the gang-gang as our bird emblem and the royal bluebell as our plant emblem as important symbols of the ACT.

In November 2017 the Legislative Assembly asked the committee to inquire into the proposal for a mammal emblem of the ACT. The committee received 29 submissions from the community. The committee ended up looking at the most frequently nominated animals: the eastern bettong, the spotted tail quoll, the southern brush-tailed rock-wallaby, the echidna and the little forest bat.

The committee considered factors including: the animal’s connection to the ACT region, its contribution to the local environment, whether it was classified as vulnerable or endangered, and the potential for publicity as the territory emblem to contribute to important conservation efforts.

The two frontrunners went to a public poll: the eastern bettong and the southern brush-tailed rock-wallaby. Many members of the public and organisations participated in both the submissions and the public poll. I mention the twitter war between Brian the bettong, one of the cutest little creatures that you will ever meet, and Rhonda the rock wallaby. It is my understanding that David Sharaz has a very close working relationship with Rhonda the rock wallaby and is very welcoming of Rhonda’s ultimate success to be chosen as the mammal emblem of the ACT.

It is a wider issue that we are thinking about here, that is, the importance of symbols and their history and how they relate to our territory. Symbols have and will continue to have cultural and historical importance. The symbols you choose to represent your territory or your city or any other entities reflect that entity. Every culture in society has its own set of symbols and they are associated with different experiences and perceptions. It is a very human experience.

In Canberra and the ACT the symbols we have represent what is unique about us and what reflects the different aspects of our culture and history. In some senses we are a young community but we have the opportunity to incorporate Indigenous symbols, and that reflects the much longer and broader history of the ACT and surrounding region. Our symbols will grow with importance with the passage of time and generations as each generation learns about the symbols we have chosen.

The southern brush-tailed rock-wallaby will take its place in the story of Canberra and it joins an important list of Canberra symbols. Today the Chief Minister has announced that the southern brush-tailed rock-wallaby will become the mammal emblem of the ACT. Over 20 years ago in 1997 the then Chief Minister Kate Carnell announced the gang-gang cockatoo emblem for the ACT.

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