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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (5 August) . . Page.. 3591..

MR PRATT (continuing):

On this occasion, I wish to talk about his unwise attendance at an organisational fundraising activity at which the famous and gorgeous Donna Mulhearn was present as a guest speaker. The organisation itself-the Iraqi friendship society-is a quite responsible and well-regarded group. Donna Mulhearn was a human shield in Baghdad. She was also a person who was found to have been arrested in Faluja, some 50-odd kilometres west of Baghdad. She claimed that she had been kidnapped by the freedom fighters, but she then expressed sympathy with the so-called freedom fighters and took the opportunity, in the presence of the so-called freedom fighters, to bag this country-our government-over those issues. Donna Mulhearn may in herself be quite a decent person, but she is extremely naive and has expressed and exercised certain disloyalty to this country. I find it particularly strange that the Chief Minister attended that function.

Mr Wood: Where was that function held?

MR PRATT: It was at the Olims hotel, about three to four weeks ago. I raise this because members of the Muslim community have expressed concern that there is a division being driven by a pro-Ba'athist grouping in the Canberra Islamic community. Would you believe that in 2004 in this town there is a bloody pro-Ba'athist grouping? We have this Chief Minister not exercising discretion in some of these activities which reflect an international flavour and, in so doing, creating more disruption within our multicultural community, rather than managing that portfolio to ensure that there is harmony across the multicultural community. That is a concern, and I raise it here now.

Chief Minister-staff

Iraq-fundraising event


(Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (9.17): I acknowledge that a member of my staff used an expression that he certainly now regrets. He used the expression under some provocation, but he regrets that he did not use the restraint that he might have in the circumstances. I pass on that expression of regret from him for the language he used. I have to say that, as with most things in this place, there are two sides to every story, just as there are to that. But certainly my chief of staff regrets that he lost his temper and used language he normally would not use in those circumstances.

As for the amazing comments that have just been made about the fact that I attended a function designed to raise funds for refugees and for the rebuilding of Iraq, I am simply astounded. I am quite astounded-shocked-and, I have to say, essentially discouraged that Mr Pratt, on behalf of the Liberal Party of the ACT, should criticise me for attending to support an event designed to raise funds for people maimed, displaced or made homeless by our unjustified and unlawful attack on Iraq.

It really is, I think, a matter of some very real significance and an insight into the ACT branch of the Liberal Party that their spokesman on multicultural affairs should stand here and castigate me for raising funds to assist people devastated by war-people who have been displaced from their homes; people who have been maimed; people who have been made homeless; people who have lost their jobs; people who have lost their livelihoods; and people who have lost their very reason for being, as a result of the invasion of their nation.

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