12 March 1991 - Current
Mr BRACKS (Premier) -- As the honourable member for Bendigo East said, next year marks an important year in the history of Victoria and Australia. Prior to 1851 Victorians were governed from Sydney -- not a prospect we would ever welcome again, of course! Following its formal separation from New South Wales in 1851 Victoria became an independent colony, as did Tasmania and South Australia. From 1851 to 1901 Victoria, as a self-governing colony, had a colonial Parliament, not a state-government run authority or Parliament. On 18 June 2001 we will mark the 100-year anniversary of the first sitting of the state Parliament -- that is, the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Victoria -- following the Federation of the Australian states on 1 January 1901. To mark that important event, Honourable Speaker, I am pleased to say that in response to my letter you have agreed to support the notion that on or close to that day the Legislative Assembly be taken to the people for an historic one-day sitting to celebrate the centenary of Federation and Victoria's 100 years as a state. Just before question time I communicated this information to the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Leader of the National Party. It is proposed that for the first time ever in Victoria -- I think it is the first time ever for an Australian Parliament -- the Legislative Assembly will sit outside Melbourne, in this case in Bendigo. Honourable members interjecting. Mr BRACKS -- I appreciate and understand the comments of honourable members on all sides of the house. There are many places where the event could occur. Bendigo's position, as the geographic centre of Victoria, is the ideal place. Bendigo has also been chosen because of its pivotal role in the events leading to Federation. Sir John Quick, the first federal member for Bendigo, was an author of the Australian constitution. Many other places lay claim to some of our founding fathers -- for example, Alfred Deakin was the first member for Ballarat. There are many claims, but the centrality of Bendigo makes it the appropriate place. I am delighted that by taking the Parliament to Bendigo next year we can recognise the crucial role that regional Victoria played in the history of Victoria, the nation and the formation of the Federation. I understand it will be an Australian first and apparently one of the few times it has happened anywhere in the world. The historic sitting will occur as close a practicable to the 100-year anniversary date of 18 June 2001. Again that demonstrates the commitment of this government and the Parliament to ensure it works closely with the Victorian public and meets its needs. Taking the Parliament out to country Victoria is a very welcome step.