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Wednesday, 25 November 1998
Page: 680

Mr RONALDSON (7:32 PM) —I take this opportunity to congratulate you, Sir. I am very pleased that my friend and colleague the member for Bendigo is in the chamber tonight after his disgracefully parochial maiden speech yesterday, when he had the gall to refer to the difference between Ballarat and Bendigo and, indeed, the further gall to indicate that Bendigo was better than Ballarat. I understand that the member in his maiden speech would feel a great desire to talk passionately about Bendigo, but he knows as well as I do that we have more and better manufacturers, we have better tourist destinations, we have better weather and we drive more tourist export dollars. The one thing that the honourable member for Bendigo hasn't got which I know he desperately wants is Eureka, and that's the reason why I am on my feet tonight.

In the early hours of the morning of 3 December 1854 a brief but violent battle took place in the Ballarat goldfields between 150 irate miners, 276 soldiers and police. The battle was shortlived and resulted in the deaths of at least 22 stockaders. I am very pleased that the City of Ballarat has declared the first Sunday in December to be `Eureka Sunday' in honour of those who fought and died for the rights and freedoms of all Australians.

The City of Ballarat, the people of Ballarat and the member for Ballarat are anxious to ensure that Eureka Sunday is a national day of celebration. Despite our parochial views on Bendigo and Ballarat, I am sure that the member for Bendigo, coming from the region that he does and understanding the importance of Eureka, would also thoroughly endorse Eureka Sunday as a national day of celebration. He is nodding his head in agreement. I thank him for that because it is very much a regional as well as a Ballarat thing.

As 3 December was the actual day of the Eureka Stockade, we have tried to keep the celebration day as close to that as possible. So the closest Sunday to 3 December has become the celebration day. The announcement has been made in Ballarat, and it is my pleasure tonight to do so here, that the first Sunday in December will now be known as `Eureka Sunday', a national day of celebration. I say to the House that I hope all members—who I am sure would hold my passionate belief in Eureka, in what Eureka means, and in what it represents—will go out and say to their constituents: `I want you to celebrate Eureka Sunday, the national day of celebration.' I am hoping that the member for Brisbane, who is at the table tonight, and who I am sure fully understands and endorses the sentiments of Eureka and what it stands for will be anxious for the people of Brisbane to celebrate this national day of commemoration, Eureka Sunday—a very special day for the people of Ballarat, but even more importantly, in my view, for the people of Australia.

What will happen on this marvellous day, this national day of celebration, Eureka Sunday, announced in the House tonight and announced in Ballarat in the last week, is that hundreds and, we believe possibly thousands, of people will carry candlelit lanterns down the path that the government troops took on this day, which is now remembered throughout Australia as being—and I don't think I am parochial in saying this—if you like, our day of democracy, Australia's day of democracy. By retracing those steps and taking the oath of allegiance I think that all Australians can be proud of Eureka and proud of what Eureka stands for. I encourage every member and every senator to celebrate their newest national day of celebration.