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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 February 2018) . . Page.. 297 ..


and the multi-faith communities we have in Canberra add to our city enormously. We should be doing everything possible to help them flourish in our city.

When you look at where this debate might go and what really is the end game for those on the other side with regard to this matter of public importance, as I said, of course, they do not want to see religious organisations in Canberra. They do not want to see people expressing faith in Canberra. It is a fierce secularism that so many opposite hold. I wonder how this is going to play out. Are we actually going to see concessional leases across the ACT that so many religious organisations enjoy be threatened? Is that a stick that those opposite are going to be willing to use if they do not get their way?

If you say that you believe in partial freedom, that is not freedom at all. I think it is a very slippery slope that we are on here. I think it is up to the government to outline what it is that they are really trying to achieve here. What is actually the end game?

Whilst I imagine that Mr Ramsay will get up and give a spirited defence of religious institutions, we all know that there are some on his side of the chamber who would not agree. We all know that there are some on that side of the chamber who would happily withdraw concessional leases across Canberra to faith institutions.

We know that there are people on that side who do not believe that the faith communities of Canberra and the religious organisations are a force for good. When you look at the heavy lifting that so many of these organisations provide, if you look at what a church, a mosque, a synagogue, a temple or the numerous other faith communities provide to their communities, the government could not do it even if they tried.

Whilst you might be able to procure services, it is very hard to procure commitment. It is very hard to procure compassion. These are the sorts of things that are delivered in spades at Canberra’s faith communities.

We are concerned about the ramifications of what is being discussed here. We do believe, and proudly so, in freedom of thought, association and religion and in so many other pillars of our society. We urge the government to approach this with extreme caution.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (3.56): We have heard an amazing allegation from the Leader of the Opposition today: that we on this side of the chamber do not want to have religious organisations. It would be a strange thing, and a strange allegation to be made. I certainly value the place of religious organisations. It demonstrates on the part of the Leader of the Opposition, and potentially the opposition, the Canberra Liberals, a fundamental misunderstanding of what is important around the basis of the balance of the freedom from discrimination in relation to religion in the ACT.

Let me outline what the government is trying to achieve, as the Leader of the Opposition has invited. In November last year this government joined Canberra and


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