CENTENARY OF CANBERRA
FEDERATION MALL, CANBERRA
12 MARCH 2013
I will begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting, the Ngunnawal people. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.
Today close to this ceremony our city of Canberra was named and the building of Australia’s capital commenced.
Over the past 100 years as our young country grew – its capital grew alongside it.
1913 – a time before the landings at Gallipoli, and the origins of the ANZAC spirit. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was a distant dream. We still looked to England – the homeland, 12 thousand miles away – to protect us.
All up, as a nation we were barely out of infancy. It’s an immense leap forward, to the Canberra we see today – at the beginning of the next chapter in Canberra’s story.
Canberra is a city with two lives. Firstly as the purpose-built capital of a nation, the other – our home.
Whilst the nation’s capital is not yet fully built – a casual glance around the parliamentary triangle shows just what has been achieved in our first 100 years.
The architectural flourish which is the Federal Parliament is the most obvious national monument and sitting at its base the former Parliament House. Peppered around the heart of our city are the national institutions who proudly exhibit our nation’s most important treasures.
Look to ANZAC Parade – a museum spread along a street – the War Memorial at the base of Mount Ainslie offering the respect of the country to all those who have fought for and protected us over the past 100 years.
But nothing shouts Canberra quite like Lake Burley Griffin – a centre piece in a beautifully planned city protected by mountains and the bush.
But at the same time that Australia’s capital was being built – quietly in the suburbs a new community was being formed. Strangers forced together from all over the country and overseas started building what bricks and mortar cant – the spirit of a city.
Relatively far from the sea. Relatively remote. In the unforgiving Australian bushland.
As important civic buildings went up – playgroups were formed, auxiliaries were established; community groups started the work of creating the social fabric of our home. Schools, universities and hospitals were built to educate and care for the quickly growing population.
And over time – those strangers – bought here to build this city – befriended each other, settled with their families and called Canberra home. We became Canberrans, it’s this spirit that has allowed us to build a city.
We are proud of our nation’s capital. We are proud of our home. We are proud of what has been achieved in our first 100 years and we are excited about our next.
It is my honour to invite you to stand for the 2013 Centenary toast: To the ‘Federal Capital City’ of Canberra today, to its sustainable and peaceful future, and to the men and women, past and present, who have played their part in the city beautiful spread out before us – together with those destined, in the centuries ahead, to make their own contributions to Canberra’s ongoing story.
To the spirit of Canberra.