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What about Canberra history?

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Senator Gary Humphries Senator for the ACT

Date : Friday, 25 August 2006


Author : Sen. Gary Humphries

Canberra students should learn about the history of Canberra as part of any revamped history curriculum.

Backing the Federal Education Minister's call for "a renaissance of Australian history in our schools", ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries said this should include the study of Canberra history for local students.

"With the centenary of Canberra approaching and Canberra at a critical phase of its development, I believe a renewed focus on our city's past would be timely," Senator Humphries said today.

"I would like the ACT Education Minister to consider making Canberra history a stand-alone subject.

"By giving Australian history a local angle, we increase the chances of students developing an interest in it.

• "Are the young people that frequent King O'Malley's pub aware that O'Malley, as Minister for Home Affairs, was responsible for a ban on the sale of alcohol in the ACT that lasted 15 years?

• "Are they aware that Dalgety, on the banks of the Snowy River, would almost certainly have been the national capital if the NSW Government hadn't objected?

• "Do they know that the world's first hovercraft race was held on a part-filled Lake Burley Griffin in 1964?

"There is significant discussion about the city's skills shortages and the implications of the expanding Commonwealth public service. But how many of us are aware that Canberra has faced these types of challenges before?

"In 1948, the transfer of 7,000 public servants from Melbourne was delayed due to a lack of housing which was largely caused by a shortage of skilled tradespeople. Subsequently, Germans and Finns were recruited to help build accommodation.

"By teaching young people about Canberra's past, we are giving Canberra's future leaders knowledge that will help them make the right decisions," Senator Humphries said.