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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 240 ..

this place is an absolute disgrace. What the proposal says is—and I cannot be sure whether it is in the press release or Mr Corbell has misunderstood (b)—“efforts in the community towards establishing an Islamic library”. I think we all know it is there. I have made speeches in this place about it. I have made speeches around the country about the centre and its location. For those that have not been to Monash, it is a fabulous place. At that intersection of Clive Steele Avenue and Isabella Drive are four of the great religions of the world. You have got the Catholics at MacKillop college, you have got another Christian church on the other side, you have got the Canberra Islamic Centre and you have got the Aussie Rules ovals that service southern Canberra. Whatever your faith there is something for you at that intersection, and it works. It works together and it works well.

As to the nonsense that Mr Corbell just said in this place, he should stand up, apologise and withdraw. My memory is that this issue has been discussed in this place on several occasions. If you had been across this issue you would have known that it started in 1995. That is when I got my first briefing about it. I am sure it was thought out well before then. I was briefed, as the member for Canberra—it was in my electorate—about what was planned. The Carnell government made the grant. The Governor-General, Sir William Deane, in 1997 inaugurated it. There is a lovely reference in the Islamic Voice under the heading “Islamic centre opened in Canberra”:

Canberra (Australia). Canberra Islamic Centre was inaugurated on August 23 by the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia in a function held in Canberra Hyatt Hotel.

The $ 3 million complex will have a huge Islamic library with the largest collection of Islamic books in the southern hemisphere. Large number of Government dignitaries including Mr. Justice Rowlands Lady Deane and high commissioners and ambassadors attended the ceremony.

Australian Muslims leader Sheikh Taj-ed-Din el Hilali and Canberra Islamic Centre President Abdul Sultan spoke at the occasion and said it was time that contributions of Muslims both in Australia and elsewhere were highlighted.

In a note circulated over Internet, Centre’s vice President Diana Rahman said Muslims were the large non-Christian minority in Australia and represent people born in over 50 countries.

That is a fantastic thing to have in Tuggeranong. I am told there are about 35,000 books and pieces now that used to live in garages and bedrooms, in boxes under beds. Now they are in one location. I thank Ms Bresnan for bringing the motion on. It is something we have discussed in this place before. It is a wonderful resource for the people of Australia, particularly the people of Canberra.

Canberra should be a place of art. It should be a place of culture. It should be a place of learning, understanding, tolerance, inclusion and a place of worship. We are very lucky in this city that we can have Sikh temples and Hindu temples. We can have Indian Hindu and Sri Lankan Hindu temples. We can have Buddhist temples. We can have a Jewish synagogue. We can have mosques. We can have Catholic and Protestant churches. We can have all the faiths here. Canberra has had from its

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