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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . .

Page.. 3063..


He said, "Should it not be the motto of one and a quarter billion countrymen that every step in life should be in the country's interests?" Prime Minister Modi spoke of age-old communal tensions dividing India, describing them as the poison of caste-ism, communalism, regionalism, and discrimination on social and economic grounds.

While it has many social problems, India is the world's largest democracy. It enjoys a stable democratic system, even as ruling parties change; significant civil liberties; an independent judiciary; and a fairly free press. Prime Minister Modi attributed the strength of India's democracy and constitution for making possible his rise from a poor family in a small town. He said that a top economic priority is tackling inflated food prices and wastage from poor storage, with 40 per cent of fresh fruit and vegetables and 20 million tonnes of wheat ruined each year. He also wants to relax foreign investment to allow up to 49 per cent foreign ownership in Indian firms without requiring time-consuming government approvals.

In Canberra we are lucky to be able to share and experience some of the incredibly rich variety of cultures from India, thanks to the generosity of the communities that have settled and grown here. They have brought special skills here and filled many roles in our community, especially in the health, IT, government and community services sectors. Despite the remarkable cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity within India, the nations of India and Australia have much common ground and a shared history, a common system of government, a shared region and ocean, and cricket.

I thank the Indian community in Canberra for sharing the 67th Indian Independence Day celebrations and its message of community harmony, and for contributing to the dynamic cultural diversity of our city.

Focus ACT

MR WALL (Brindabella) (4.27): Madam Assistant Speaker, I rise to acknowledge in this place the great and critical work that is done by Focus ACT. Focus is a non-profit, non-government organisation that is committed to ensuring that individuals with intellectual disabilities are able to get involved and be part of the inclusive and caring community that we have here in Canberra and that is available to all citizens.

Working with individuals, families, guardians and advocates here in the ACT, Focus is able to help those who are intellectually disabled to choose the lifestyle they want to lead and take control of their daily lives. It comes down to the Focus philosophy, that anyone is capable of achieving a fulfilling lifestyle. Through providing services such as life-skills training, personal and domestic support and mentoring, such is possible.

In acknowledging the organisation, I would like to pay tribute to the people behind the operation whose work enhances the lives of those that they work with and is most definitely worthy of praise.

First I would like to start by recognising the management and support team. It is headed up by the Chief Executive, Tina Siver, with Torrien Lau, Michelle Dale, Megan Chappell, Annie Drage, Denise Marshall, Camille Smith, Margaret Severs,


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