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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 1369..


The thing about the mass that struck me, and which was echoed a number of times by Father Jones in his sermon and at the end of the service, was the spirit of thanksgiving for the support that the Canberra community had extended to the Spanish community in Canberra and through that to the wider Spanish community across the world who are grieving at this moment. I commend the Spanish community-and particularly Marissa Gonzales, who was the principal organiser of most of the Canberra events-and assure them that they are in our thoughts.

Statements by Chief Minister

MR CORNWELL (10.17): I seem to be standing here and making apologies for the Chief Minister all the time. But I do want to issue apologies to the Canberran of the Year function because once again, in my opinion, the Chief Minister devalued the function by again making his political speech on Iraq, the refugees and the sorry campaign. I do not know which I find most objectionable: his self-righteous attitude or his arrogance in claiming the moral high ground on these matters. Seriously, there is a time and place for these debates. I do not believe, however, that they should take place at citizenship ceremonies, nor functions to announce the Canberran of the year. If the Chief Minister has a view about these matters, I am sure this side of the house would be happy to debate him on the matters in this chamber. Much as we believe that international matters have no real place here in the ACT Assembly, I would be prepared to withdraw my opposition to international debates in this chamber if it would only prevent him from making these statements at inappropriate public functions.

Embassy of Afghanistan

Education

MR PRATT (10.18): Mr Speaker, I have two points that I want to take this opportunity to raise. One is that tomorrow in Canberra there will be the laying of the foundation stone for the new Embassy of Afghanistan. I do not know that we will be able to go to that, because of tomorrow's routine. But, wearing my shadow multicultural hat, in case we cannot get away from here I wish Ambassador Saikal and the community all the best in the establishment of that embassy. Australia is in close co-operation with Afghanistan, providing whatever support we can, and I do hope we can provide a lot more support in the growth of their fledgling democracy. That is the first point.

The second point is that, following on from today's debate, I have a little anecdote that I would like to bring forward. As I was out doorknocking on Thursday afternoon in one of the suburbs in my area of responsibility, in an average side street I came across a young lady and two primary school children in a refurbished guvvy type house, with two fairly basic cars out the front. They were not a particularly well-off family, but certainly the house reflected their pride and their standards and they had been creative in the way they had organised it. They were very close to a large, well-known primary school. I do not want to mention it because it is a primary school that I happen to know is a good one. I like this particular school and they do a lot of good work there.

I was a bit disappointed when she said to me, "No, even though we live 200 metres from this school, we don't go there. I put my kids in the car and go up the hill to another


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