Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (15 September) . .
for the importance of diversity, compassion and acceptance as defining qualities of a mature and prosperous community. Unfortunately these qualities are not always on display in Australia.
I recognise the activists in our community who, in the face of complex and often divisive politics, continue to be a loud and public voice speaking out against the persecution and injustice that many refugees face. We would not have seen the decisions of recent days if it had not been for the sustained pressure from millions of people around the world. There are many Canberrans who are now relieved that they will, in future, be able to say that they played a part in opening the path to safety for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in this community just as many are proud of the role that they played in assisting the Kosovar and Latin American refugees who have contributed so significantly to this city.
As we look towards taking more people into our community we should be proud of our past achievements. They are proof that we can do it again and not just for the benefit of those we welcome but for our own benefit too. There is a lot to celebrate in our traditions of inclusion and equality in responding to persecution and injustice and in our commitment to giving all new residents access to all of these services and supports that make Canberra such a great place to live.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.32): I thank Ms Berry for bringing this matter forward. Clearly the situation that we have seen unfolding in the Middle East is a great tragedy. For those of us who have—and I know Mr Doszpot is a refugee in his past—served on the frontline, as I did in the Middle East and in East Timor, and have worked with organisations like UNHCR and IOM and seen firsthand the flight of refugees, helped and assisted with refugees from Kosovo as they are accommodated many times in the community in Army bases, this is a great tragedy and it is good that we as a nation and we as a territory are doing our bit to help the people fleeing persecution, people fleeing what is some of the most evil actions that certainly we have witnessed in our lifetimes from Islamic State.
I hope that this is an occasion where we can join together as a community and support these initiatives. I must say that I was a little disappointed in Ms Berry's reference to divisive federal politics and bringing the federal political situation into the frame. I take this occasion to remind those opposite that it is because we now have secure borders that we are in a much better position and that the federal government, the federal Liberal government, has been able to take on so many additional refugees from Syria, 12,000 additional refugees. This would not have been possible under the Labor policies which are still advocated by those opposite. I remind members when they talk about the tragedy, the great human despair that we have seen on the television screens, that under the regime of the previous federal Labor government we saw 1,200 people drown. That was a great tragedy.
I say to those opposite who still advocate for change as they do—as Ms Berry, Mr Gentleman and others still advocate for a return to the policies of the previous Gillard and Rudd governments where we saw 1,200 people drown on our borders and we saw the influx of people by boat that would have meant that the sort of compassionate welcoming of Syrian refugees that we have seen by the federal
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