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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . .

Page.. 3417..


It is wonderful that we can come here today and embrace our multicultural community in such a bipartisan or tripartisan fashion. That is something that has been a characteristic of this Assembly and certainly the Canberra community.

As others have mentioned—Mrs Jones, Mr Rattenbury and others—it is worthy of us reminding ourselves of the importance of this, and that this does not come as naturally in other places in the world or, indeed, in Australia. It takes constant vigilance and work to make sure that we retain that love of our multicultural flavour here in the ACT.

There is no doubt that the events in Syria and Iraq, and what we have seen there, and events in Australia as well, in part as a consequence, have caused fractures within elements of our community. There is no doubt that our wonderful Muslim community, to some extent, has borne the brunt of that. We need to be open and honest, and acknowledge it. What I would say from my perspective is that I served in Iraq in 2007, and many of my friends in the Iraqi army who I served alongside, their families and their friends at the time, were the victims of terror.

Many of my friends were amongst, particularly, the interpreters. I am very proud to say that the Rudd Labor government opened the doors of Australia so that those interpreters could come to Australia, and welcomed them to their new home. Many of them are now residing across Australia. They bore the brunt of events in the Middle East. It is worth remembering that the vast majority of them, and the people who we see suffering now in the Middle East, are Muslim.

What is happening at the moment is that the vast bulk of the victims are Muslim. I think that is worth reflecting on. It is not an issue that should be dividing us; this is an issue that should be uniting us. We should recognise that at this time we must do everything we can to stand beside our Muslim brothers and sisters and make sure that what is occurring in the Middle East, and by a few people—a very, very few people—in Australia is something that should make us say, "Let's make sure that this strengthens our relationship and our community and doesn't divide it.'

Again, I thank Mrs Jones for bringing this motion forward. I thank all those who have contributed to the debate today. Let us make sure, as a whole community, as we have done today, that we continue to show leadership on this issue and say to the whole Canberra community that although we are diverse, although we come from many different lands, in Canberra we are one.

MADAM SPEAKER: The question is that Dr Bourke's amendment be agreed to.

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (10.39): I can sum up and speak to the amendments, I think.

MADAM SPEAKER: No; I think there are other amendments coming. I would not advise you to sum up now.

MRS JONES: There are two amendments.


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