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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2010) . . Page.. 28 ..

Those who participated in and attended this year’s festival demonstrated that multiculturalism is indeed interwoven into the fabric of this city. The festival shines a light on the rights of individuals to preserve, express and enjoy their cultural heritage and traditions, upholding the values of respect and diversity. The festival also provides Canberrans with an opportunity to share cultures through food, song, dance and through the diplomatic corps.

I would also like to take the opportunity to highlight the efforts of volunteers in their wonderful community service, and I thank them for their support.

It is good to note that ACT Policing reported the event to be incident free. To me, this is another indicator that the ACT is a leader in multicultural affairs, and I congratulate the ACT community on making our event safe for everyone.

I also thank the business sector and diplomatic community for their leadership and for their support of the festival over a number of years. The key sponsors were Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets, ActewAGL, the Australian National University, ACTTAB and newcomers such as Barlens.

There were many highlights of the festival. On Friday, we had our marvellous “face of the festival”, the Australian cricketer Lisa Sthalekar, arrive in the morning so that she could spend time meeting about 70 local primary schoolchildren and playing cricket with them. We had backyard cricket in Civic Square, so it was a fantastic morning and the children were quite happy. They were shy to begin with, to bowl against an international cricketer, but it did not take them too long to warm up and to want to participate.

Lisa was then honoured to be guest speaker at one of our citizenship ceremonies. During that, Lisa told the crowd of her story, her journey to be an Australian and how Australia afforded her the opportunities to chase her dream to represent Australia in the game of cricket. Lisa told the crowd at the Friday night official opening of the festival that being part of the citizenship ceremony was one of the most moving experiences of her life and she owned up to shedding a tear at being part of such an important event in the lives of people—becoming an Australian citizen and becoming part of our Canberra community.

Over the entire weekend, people of all ages and from all backgrounds got to know each other through interactive workshops—which were a first at this year’s festival, I understand—to enjoy the glorious food and to admire the dancers, singers and artists. No-one can argue with the quality of the performances across the weekend. Having watched many of the acts, I could see that the spirit of the performers was uplifted by the level of crowd support and enthusiasm.

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the festival on the opening night, Friday, was the Global Concert. Not even the rain could stop the fun of that evening. As you know, when the rain did stop, the crowd grew to around 4,000 people, according to the Canberra Times, and we were delighted by all the amazing performances, such as Sol Nation and the four divas, Deni Hines, Melinda Schneider, Paulini and Emma Donovan.

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