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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1465..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

For the record, it is about $35 million a year now and about 7 per cent, so a 1 per cent increase would be $5 million. Under our policy it will go up $5 million a year. So it will be $40 million next year, $45 million the year after that, $50 million and then $55 million. The total effect is $50 million extra for mental health over the next four years. I sincerely hope the government will join the opposition in supporting increases in mental health spending to dwarf the efforts of past governments, both Liberal and Labor.

Anti-Semitism

MR STEFANIAK (5.40): Mr Speaker, 21 March was International Harmony Day. I was going through the emails today and saw a very good debate in the Senate initiated by Queensland Senator Brett Mason and Labor Senator Stephens from New South Wales.

Mr Wood: Just tell us the page and I can read it.

MR STEFANIAK: No, I am not going to just tell you the page, Minister. It was a debate about anti-Semitism-

Mr Wood: Are you going to table it or read the whole damn lot?

MR STEFANIAK: You are pathetic, Bill. I will actually paraphrase a little bit; I am not going to quote much of it. The debate was unanimous, but some speeches were certainly better than others. There were some rather startling statistics, even in terms of what is happening in Australia.

Senator Stephens indicated that, although we pride ourselves on our harmony and religious freedoms here, there is an alarming rise in the incidence of violence and anti-Semitic acts. He stated that there were 36 reports of physical violence and property damage, 58 reports of face-to-face harassment and 23 incidents of threatening and abusive phone calls. He spoke of a number of other incidents, including swastikas burnt into the ground with weedkiller, the smashing of windows in synagogues and physical attacks on individuals.

He said this offensive behaviour in Australia took place against a backdrop of massive increases in reports of harassment and attacks on Jews in Western Europe. Senator Mason also referred to those in his speech. One of those attacks involved a soccer match in Belgium where people were waving Hamas and Hizbollah banners and chanting, "Jews to the gas chamber!"A woman was attacked in Switzerland because she was wearing a small Star of David necklace, and in France there have been so many attacks on Jews in recent months that the Chief Rabbi urged religious boys and men to wear baseball caps in public instead of yarmulkes. Those countries, incidentally, Mr Wood, all have bills of rights. I make the comment: so much for bills of rights protecting people.

Senator Mason made a very telling point. He quoted Pastor Martin Niemoller. For those of you who have not heard of him, he was a famous German anti-Nazi activist-a Lutheran-and his words ring true once again. Senator Mason quoted:

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out-because I was not a Jew.


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