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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (21 September) . . Page.. 3047..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

The other day the Prime Minister pointed to the Greek community as the best example of a community that has integrated into the Australian way of life. Many Greeks who came to Australia in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s did not speak the English language. Many of those who arrived back then still do not speak English today. But they made a hell of a contribution to our community through their hard work.

Today, Canberra is home to thousands of individuals from dozens of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Their various cultures and religions are celebrated every day, every weekend, with festivals, family gatherings, worship time at churches and club outings. The national capital is a place in which multiculturalism is not only present; it thrives. The ACT government is keen to ensure that it plays a strong role in ensuring that multiculturalism continues to be an important part in the way we manage our culturally diverse community.

In moving forward, the ACT government issued a draft multicultural strategy last week for community comment. The purpose of the strategy—

MR SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.

MS MacDONALD: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, will you continue to encourage our multicultural community and bring further migrants to Canberra?

MR HARGREAVES: The Stanhope government will continue to encourage new settlers to choose Canberra as their home and to advocate an approach in which diversity can flourish in a tolerant setting. Last night I attended a function, organised by Mr Pratt, where members of the Canberra Muslim community and representatives from the Christian and Jewish faiths were present. I have to say that I was heartened by what was said at that function, but I am not sure what Mr Pratt thought recently when he wanted to tar and feather members of the Muslim community.

The function was held in time for Ramadan. Many of the diplomats and representatives of the various faiths spoke and it was clear that we are all seeking the same goal—peace on earth and love for one and other. That may not have suited Mr Pratt either, as he and the Prime Minister would rather have a more divisive community in which fear can be manipulated for their own purposes.

This function was all about brotherhood and goodwill. It was about the time to reflect and to consider ourselves and how we behave towards others. We talked about global issues and the way in which Islam is perceived around the world. We talked about the strengths of the major religions and the strength they give to their practitioners.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Hargreaves, come to the question.

MR HARGREAVES: These sentiments are in stark contrast with the statements made by Mr Pratt, as reported in the Canberra Times recently, in which he criticised in strong language the views of the multicultural community, particularly the Muslim community. Perhaps Mr Pratt is merely spouting publicly the views of John Howard and perhaps he


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