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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 144..


MS PORTER (continuing):

demonstration of what we are about in this place. We need to work together, I believe, for the good of the community. I thought that that is what we are about in this place.

I would reflect on other things that members have said in their response to this motion. Mrs Dunne spoke about bilingual education and the decline at the time in our history that she mentioned of the German language when it became so unpopular. It reminded me that both my sons—there is no connection between the two decisions that they have made—have both coincidentally married second—generation German young women who still maintain their language of origin. In fact, one of them actually teaches German in the Brisbane public primary school where she is a teacher. My other son lives in Alice Springs with his wife and family. As I said, that young woman is also German, and they moved there because my son wanted to be closer to the place where he had spent his childhood—remote Arnhem Land.

Sadly, and as Dr Foskey did allude to, when I arrived in Oenpelli at that time before my children were born, the then Anglican mission required all people on that mission to communicate only in English. I used to be quite puzzled by the fact that we stood in the little chapel there, the majority of people in that chapel being Indigenous people, and singing hymns in English. Fortunately some few years later we went to Milingimbi where my son, as I previously mentioned, arrived with me as a baby. He went to preschool there and primary school with Indigenous children, and all people there were encouraged to speak Gupapunu, as I mentioned earlier when I opened this debate. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at Dhupma college in Gove—a residential college for Indigenous students attending the high school in Gove—the federal government's policy was that we all communicate in English, and students were not allowed to communicate in their language of origin. I think we have come some way from there. As I said earlier, I hope today's motion that is passed in federal Parliament by the commonwealth government will allow us to begin a new journey.

Yes, Mrs Dunne, you can talk about us, certainly in this place, as being, in the main, Anglo in our backgrounds and our approach. However, I would hope that, over time, the nature of our society will change and the backgrounds of the people who stand in this place will be more representative of the diverse community that we live in. I am very sorry, however, that Mrs Dunne sees the mention of the sharing of culture through the sharing of food as somehow unimportant and somehow soggy. That is a shame. However, let us celebrate this International Year of Languages realising that, whilst we have a way to go perhaps in realising the potential that this multicultural city's population offers us, it is a journey that we can share. As Mr Hargreaves said, it is governments, both ACT and federal, and the community that need to work together to continue this journey.

I am looking forward to the multicultural summit and the outcomes of that discussion. I am sure that, again, there will be much benefit gleaned from it, as there was with previous summit. I am looking forward to the work that they are going to be doing and the work that the government can do coming out of that summit. Thank you very much to everyone for their contribution, and thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Motion agreed to.


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