Festival shows off our fun side - OpEd, The Chronicle

Festival shows off our fun side

The Chronicle, 6 February 2018

What do Nordic folk dancing, African food and writer Poh Lin Yeow have in common? They’ll all be featuring at the Canberra Multicultural Festival, kicking off on 16 February.

One man who would have been proud of our colourful festival was King O’Malley, a member of the first Australian parliament who was a great champion for Canberra.

When he first arrived in Australia from the United States, O’Malley lived in a cave in Queensland with an Indigenous man, Coowonga. He has been described as a cross between “a spruiker from Barnum's three-ring circus, a hell-and-tarnation revivalist, and a four-flushing Yankee Congressman”.

In his 99-year life, O’Malley was a preacher, a salesman, a politician and a journalist. He’s why my party’s name is spelled “Labor”. A teetotaller, he’s why alcohol was originally banned in the ACT. So, naturally, Canberrans named a pub after him.

You can tell a lot about a city by how it celebrates. Canberra’s multicultural festival reflects our commitment to openness and to living a big life - like King O’Malley.

Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fenner.


Showing 2 reactions

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  • Robert Cao
    commented 2018-03-16 22:24:53 +1100
    Festivals are the best one to celebrate together. At https://nsw-writers.com/, I have read an article about O’Malley. He is multi talented person and is inspiration for everyone.
  • Bryan Kavanagh
    commented 2018-02-07 10:10:45 +1100
    King O’Malley was a doer as well as a blowhard. He helped get the people’s bank (CBA) up and running before we lost it to rent-seekers in the 1990s. Involved in the transcontinental railway and, yes, a great proponent of the founding of the ACT on leasehold. He was so ‘front and centre’ at the official opening at Canberra you’d have thought he was the PM!

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