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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 115..


MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

concern that was raised was the fact that many communities had difficulties in flagging concerns to their peak organisations. These are issues that as a result of the forums and summit can now be taken up in a coordinated approach.

While the forums and summit are complete, and we eagerly await the release of the new multicultural strategy, the work of the minister has not stopped in terms of engaging directly with the multicultural community. On a weekly and sometimes even daily basis he is out there at events organised by the multicultural community-sometimes as a guest speaker, other times simply as a guest. But, either way, the minister shows a direct and active interest in these affairs, in stark contrast to the shadow minister's attempt with a fleeting visit to a bazaar last year.

I have personally witnessed that the minister, whenever he attends these kinds of events, makes an effort to speak with as many individuals as he can, to seek direct feedback from the community, which he is then able to share with us, his government colleagues. Canberra's size lends itself to an accessible and personal consultation with the community. As legislators, this kind of direct community feedback, combined with other sources of information and data, is of the utmost importance, and particularly so when this government is seeking to improve legislation in the future and implement new policies, such as in 2004 with the Human Rights Act. This is one very important piece of legislation that I, as a member of this government, am proud to have been involved in, particularly as it offers inclusiveness for all members of our community.

By having a Human Rights Act, which enshrines our citizens' fundamental political and civil rights, we are all free to go about our lives in the national capital, safe in that knowledge. We have a right to personal freedoms of movement, thought and religion without restrictions. As we have already heard, the rights of minority groups are also covered so that they are free to enjoy their culture, practise and profess their own religion and use their own language. These rights help make our city a better place, a fairer place, in which multiculturalism is not only adopted but cherished.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.04): I suppose we are very used to these government amendments to motions, which basically just turn the motions into some sort of self-congratulation. I think it is really disappointing because it indicates a closed-mindedness to, in this case, a very constructive approach. I have to say that I have been trying to get to talk to the government about these sorts of ideas ever since the summit. I have put them to a number of people and-

Mr Hargreaves: You haven't approached my office yet.

DR FOSKEY: I spoke to some people in your office at the summit, actually.

Mr Hargreaves: You haven't spoken to me about it yet. You haven't approached me yet.

DR FOSKEY: I am certainly happy to talk to you about it later, minister. Anyway, I listened respectfully to you, minister.

Mr Hargreaves: Yes.


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