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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2448 ..


maintain the rage, to cement their commitment to John Howard’s refugee policies? Why did the Liberal Party in this place feel the need to stand in concert with, to stand beside, John Howard and his refugee policies? Why could they not distance themselves from that appalling, inhumane policy that saw this family, with its three children, spend 3½ years on Nauru?

Why did they have to stand in ideological purity with their federal colleagues on this inhumane policy that is a feature of John Howard’s prime ministership and send, on this day, this direct message to the heart of this family that yes, there are many here who stand ready to embrace and welcome you as fellow human beings into our community and are ready to nurture you but be aware that there is, within the Liberal Party and within the ACT Assembly, a group who would wish you to understand what they think about you and of you? They do not accept your legitimacy; they do not want you here; they do not want the ACT government to be involved in your welfare or to embrace you or to extend that hand of friendship; they want to maintain their hatred for and of you and everything you stand for.

Mrs Burke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: there is an imputation that the Chief Minister is speaking on behalf of the opposition. I ask him to withdraw that. We are not not welcoming people. “We are not welcoming people like this to the city.” He needs to withdraw those comments.

MR SPEAKER: He is responding legitimately to a question.

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the supplementary question was about what services the ACT government have to offer. If the ACT government does not have any services, under standing order 118 (b) he cannot argue the question. And you know that.

MR SPEAKER: He can mention the issue of welcoming these people, because that is one of the services that I think was going to be provided by the Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: And it was. It is vitally important that we extend the hand of friendship and provide those forms of services.

There is a whole range of other assistance that we will be providing. We will provide short-term accommodation, as needed. We will provide assistance with private rental bonds and provide access to public school education. We will provide free childcare for those learning English. We will provide access to English language classes at the CIT. We will provide access to interpreting services. We will provide access to financial support for dependent children. We will assist them in their integration into our schools. We will provide ambulance care, treatment and support. That is what the government will do.

That will stand, I think, against the enormous support that I know the good-hearted people within the Canberra community will show. We are blessed with so many people that will flock to support this family, as they do other refugee families that I believe have done us, in choosing our home to be their home, an enormous service. They pay us, I think through that, a real vote of confidence.


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