Page 484 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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immune from war since the conclusion of World War II, it has largely avoided major conflict that has threatened the stability of the continental order.

Today I want to add my voice to the chorus of voices around the world calling for peace and the withdrawal of Russian forces. It would be remiss of me not to mention why I feel compelled to speak today. I have close family friends of Ukrainian heritage. I was at a Ukrainian wedding just last weekend. I grew up attending celebrations and ceremonies at Ukrainian churches right here in Canberra. I have been fortunate enough to experience the vibrant and strong Ukrainian culture, and it breaks my heart to see it threatened. It is important that Ukraine and Ukrainian culture around the world is protected. I am confident that Canberra will remain a welcoming city that celebrates this diversity, even as the future of Ukraine hangs in the balance.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the spread of disinformation throughout online spaces and the radicalisation of pro-Putin elements here in Australia. It is very real and it is already having an effect. I have seen pro-Putin language adopted in the anti-vaccine movement, as well as other far-right movements. This needs to be called out. This is a wake-up call that elements of our community remain disenfranchised, distrustful of institutions and susceptible to propaganda. If we wish to fight back against authoritarian forces around the world, it is important that we confront the murmurs of authoritarian thought at home first.

In closing, I stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and I hope that they remain resolute in the face of tremendous firepower. Each day that they stand strong is a good day. I look forward to the day that Ukraine is free, free of conflict, and Ukrainians are free to live their lives in their own democracy. May it come soon.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.10): The Chief Minister’s motion affirms once again that the ACT is a jurisdiction in which human rights, multiculturalism, peace and diplomacy are non-negotiable.

The situation in Ukraine has justifiably received significant global attention, with omnipresent media coverage showing the devastating impact that Russia’s invasion is having on the Ukrainian people. I echo the Chief Minister that the local Ukrainian community can be assured of our understanding the seriousness of this situation and the anxiety being felt by those who have connections to the Ukraine and its people, and also that we do recognise that those with Russian heritage or ties are stunned and appalled by the violence overseas.

We must also not forget that there are ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East which are affecting the lives of millions in those parts of the world and have a local impact too. Ultimately, conflict results in real human cost, directly and indirectly, and I acknowledge just how deeply that is felt across the world, including in Canberra.

I want to take this time to acknowledge all who are affected, including the many people across Australia witnessing these terrible events, those who are concerned for family and loved ones, and those for whom the images of war and conflict bring trauma and painful memories from their own lived experiences.

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