Standing up for Canberra

Centenary of Canberra 2013

As we rapidly approach the dawn of a new year, I rise today to reflect on 2013, Canberra's centenary year. This year we celebrated 100 years Canberra as the national capital—100 years since Lady Denman, wife of then Governor-General Lord Denman, stood upon the newly laid foundation stone and announced that the name of the new Australian capital would be Canberra. And what a celebration it has been.

The centenary celebrations have highlighted the diversity and creativity of the people and industries in Canberra and the region, as well as the significant and ongoing contribution that Canberra makes to the nation. This year, we have truly seen Canberra at its best, from the Canberra Day celebrations in March, which included a symphony especially commissioned for Canberra and the world's longest champagne bar, to the international sporting events that have been held in Canberra from the very first time, such as the golf earlier this year. Something near and dear to my heart was the commissioning of a special ballet that paid tribute to this wonderful Parliament House and that was specifically designed for the Canberra Theatre stage.

We have learnt more about the communities we are connected with in the Murray-Darling Basin through the One River project, we have seen the best theatre Australia has to offer through the Canberra Theatre special Centenary season, we have recognised the importance of the ACT's unique villages through Unmade Edges and we have opened previously inaccessible parts of the ACT with the Centenary Trail. We have learnt more about our history and we have thought more about our future. The program of centenary celebrations has been outstanding and, if I were to detail my own highlights, we would be here for hours.

The centenary has enabled Canberrans to celebrate what they love about this city, and I hope that it has allowed Australians outside of Canberra to think of their national capital in a new light—to think of Canberra not just as the home of parliament but as a thriving, diverse and special place. I hope it has renewed their pride in their nation's capital and the great ideals of democracy on which it was built.

I would like to formally thank and acknowledge the work of the Centenary of Canberra Unit, especially Creative Director Robyn Archer—she is an Australian icon—and the ACT government for its vision, tireless work and dedication in making this year possible.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the Canberra area, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. While we celebrate 100 years of Canberra as the national capital, it is important to remember that their connection with this land is measured not in hundreds of years but in tens of thousands of years and that their role as owners and custodians of this land is as important today as it was thousands of years ago and will be into the future.

In turning into 2014, I again wish Canberra and all its people, and all Australians, a happy 100th birthday. It has been a fantastic year. I would really love to thank everyone who has taken part in it. It has renewed pride here in Canberra in our great city and also, I hope, in the nation.

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