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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 242..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

some of the myths about Islam and to get people to embrace it. Pratty and I ran a Ramadan function in the reception room. Over many years gentlemen who followed the Islam practice at that time attended to welcome Ramadan and to honour Ramadan.

Looking at this motion, we agree with part (1). As to part (2), there is a process. The minister could have simply gone to Ms Bresnan before the debate and said, "Here's the process. Give them a chance. They can apply for grants."That is what this is about. We will be supporting the government's amendment. It is the appropriate thing to do in this case. But please let us not lose sight of what could be done here. This is a brilliant opportunity for enlightenment. It is a fantastic blessing, particularly to the people of Tuggeranong, but it is a blessing to the people of Canberra to house this here. It has the ability in the long term to be an absolute drawcard and to make Canberra a centre of Islamic study and understanding, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere—when you think that the largest Islamic country is not far to our north and then not too far away are countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan, before we get to the Middle East and Egypt and your original homeland.

It is a fantastic opportunity. It is something we all should work on together. We all understand there is a process to work through and we support that process. I certainly lend my weight to the total development. As I drive down I see it all the time on Isabella Drive. I look forward to the day that it is fully operational and that when people talk about the study of Islam they immediately think of Canberra, because knowledge is power.

Canberra has a huge base in the arts, in culture. We already have world-class institutions like the ANU. Something like the Islamic library, when built in a new building on the side of the Islamic Centre—when catalogued and operational—will draw, I hope, more documents, more literature, more books, more volumes and more monographs so that the centre will grow in stature. Those of us who sit in this place making decisions, representing not just Brindabella but Canberra, should look at this as a blessing, as an opportunity to say to the rest of the world that this is a tolerant, inclusive city that understands the power of learning and that we support the Canberra Islamic library.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (8.07): Obviously I will speak about the substance of Mr Corbell's speech in closing but I just want to clarify a few things that we are proposing in the motion. At no stage did I ever suggest that we should be circumventing or bypassing processes. I actually spoke to the Chief Minister's office, an adviser in his office, about this. It would have been nice if he had a passed on the conversation I had with him to Mr Corbell and the Chief Minister. It would also have been nice if they had returned the repeated calls of my staff to try to discuss this. It would have been nice if they had returned my later call after I had had the initial conversation with the Chief Minister's adviser. I explained all that to him and I take great issue with what Mr Corbell said about the second part of our motion. That was never the intention. It would also have been good if they had passed on the information about the cataloguing. Obviously we would expect there would have to be a process if that amount of money was going to be expended. As I said, I tried to call the Chief Minister's office again after I had had the initial conversation and they did not return my call. I imagine they would have had that information at that stage, but obviously they did not provide that to us. I take offence at what has been said.


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