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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 241 ..


inception a tradition of tolerance and a tradition of acceptance. It is not uncommon to go to functions at the Islamic Centre and see Professor James Hare from the centre for Christianity and faith. It is not uncommon to go to the centre for Christianity and faith and see Ahmed Youssef saying prayers, leading prayer, and being part of the total community.

To have the nonsense that Mr Corbell opened his speech with brings discredit to this debate. It brings discredit to this Assembly because it shows there is not a genuine attempt on the part of this government to build community. If you noticed the tenor of Mr Corbell’s speech, it was about the government. It was about Labor talking about Labor, talking about all the things it is doing, instead of saying, “How about us as a community acknowledging what everybody has done, but particularly the representatives of the Canberra Islamic Centre?”

As Ms Bresnan said, they are not all Muslims. I spoke to a gentleman earlier who told me that part of the collection came from the Jesuits. Over the years they were not perhaps the most tolerant of organisations towards the Muslim faith. Many of the significant donations, including books—some more than 500 years old—have come from the private collections of Jesuit fathers who left them to the centre. Why? Because they want to build bridges. Why? Because they want understanding; they want inclusion; they want knowledge.

That is what Canberra should be. I have said in this place before and I will say it again—and I am sure I will say it again after today—that the motto of the Royal Military College, Duntroon is “doctrina vim promivet”: knowledge is power. Isn’t that right, Mr Hanson?

Mr Hanson: Correct.

MR SMYTH: Knowledge is power. We are all empowered when we have access to knowledge. But you have got to accept that knowledge with grace and awareness and you have to understand that you do not enter a debate like this tonight to score cheap political points. I think it is a great shame.

Canberra can be a city of art and culture and learning. If you go onto the Canberra Islamic Centre website, Mr Corbell, you will find that is what is proposed. At the north end of the building there is a proposed mosque and Islamic art gallery. At the southern end of the building there will be the new building that Ms Bresnan talked about—on-site, as part of the centre—to house the largest, most significant collection of Islamic literature in the Southern Hemisphere.

I think we should all be quite joyous at this. I am very proud of my involvement. I have seen Annette Ellis there several times. I have seen previous members of the Greens and the Democrats at the centre. I think people understand what it means for us all. It is a real path forward. It is about enlightenment and empowerment, but unless we accept it willingly then I think we taint what we do here today. I think that is a great shame.

I know that Steve Pratt, if he were here, would love this motion. He worked very hard to raise the consciousness of the Canberra people on issues about Islam, to dispel


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