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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (14 March) . . Page.. 551..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

By respecting difference and promoting understanding that future will be a better one for all of us.

These sentiments are at odds with the notion of one culture being absorbed into another. John Howard uses the word "integration". Clearly, the Prime Minister is at odds with his head of state. The Queen has described the essential elements of multiculturalism, not a policy of absorption or of integration. Canberra is a society of dual cultures with Polish Australians, Mexican Australians and Lao Australians. The aggregation of those dual cultures is multiculturalism. We enjoy our multiculturalism and we will defend and cherish it.

John Howard wants to indulge in the social engineering of absorption, the denial of mother country. His most recent move is to remove the word from the lexicon, and we reject that move. The word multiculturalism sticks in the Prime Minister's throat. Even the parliamentary secretary does not carry the title any more. How I hate xenophobia! This is back to the fifties, back to the Olympic Games of 1956. Mr Howard ought to be ashamed of himself. It certainly would not be the first time somebody has advised John Howard to learn the lessons of Malcolm Fraser.

In conclusion, I listened to what Dr Foskey said about the Multicultural Festival. Clearly, she has missed the point a little. I thank her very much for her promotion of it, but she might like to know that, in respect of funding, it is a partnership arrangement. In cash and kind about $1 million goes toward that festival. Its central theme is the promotion of multiculturalism. If Dr Foskey has a good look at the program—and I invite her to do so—she will see that central theme of multiculturalism threaded all the way through it.

It is funded by public and private funds, and those funds must be managed properly. We also have the artistic management of the festival, and that theme is managed by Dominic Mico. He makes sure that the thread of multiculturalism through the arts is presented at the Multicultural Festival.

We have to be careful that it does not grow so big that it becomes a festival of the arts and not a festival promoting multiculturalism. That is why we are having an evaluation program in a week or two to actually make sure that the 2008 festival concentrates on promoting the embracing of multiculturalism and that it uses as the thread for that promotion the arts in the ACT and all the other pleasant events that we actually encounter.

I fully commend Ms MacDonald's motion to the Assembly. I reject the amendments.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (4.02): I will address Mr Pratt's proposed amendment and close the debate. Firstly, I would like to thank everybody, including Mr Smyth, for their contributions to the debate. I have enjoyed this debate immensely, possibly more than any other debate I have participated in in my time in this place. I think it speaks volumes that, as well as me, six members of the Assembly contributed to the debate. So I thank members for their contribution to the debate.


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