In rising to address the House, I will start with a quote: I cannot honestly say that I liked Canberra very much; it was to me a place of exile; but I soon began to realize that the decision had been taken, that Canberra was and would continue to be the capital of the nation, and that it was therefore imperative to make it a worthy capital; something that the Australian people would come to admire and respect; something that would be a focal point for national pride and sentiment. Once I had converted myself to this faith, I became an apostle.
Those are the words of Sir Robert Menzies, a self-confessed apostle of Canberra.
Menzies, through a series of bold and ambitious decisions, established Canberra as the thriving city we know it as today and as a great national capital with a consolidated public service. Now, some 60 years after the crucial establishment of the National Capital Development Commission, the party that Menzies founded is seeking to undo his great work. If those opposite are elected in September, they promise to slash 20,000 Public Service jobs and relocate many more away from Canberra—to Tasmania, Geelong, Karratha, Cairns and Darwin, despite the fact that 60 per cent of the Public Service is already serving democracy outside Canberra.
I call on those opposite to listen to the words of Menzies, to preserve Canberra as a worthy capital, a capital the Australian people can admire and respect —a focal point for national pride and sentiment—and spare Canberra the pain and suffering that they are promising. Remember 1996, Canberra.