Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 944 ..
of Australia’s multicultural history. This is not an abstract point for me, Madam Speaker. As all in this Assembly know, I am a migrant who found shelter from great difficulties in the welcoming arms of Australia. Without this opportunity, my life would have turned out very differently. I note that this is also the case for my Liberal colleague Ms Lee.
We also take great pride in the generous welcome that our nation gives to new Australians from refugee backgrounds. This topic today inevitably makes me think of my good friend and mentor Steve Doszpot. He understood the importance of Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program with an intimacy that none of us in this room will ever be able to equal. Steve and his family escaped the Russian occupation of Hungary in 1957. Their flight to safety and freedom included travel by train, by sled and on foot. It also included time spent in various refugee camps before receiving the almost unbelievably good news that the entire family had been accepted for resettlement in Australia.
The Canberra Liberals stand for the basic freedoms of thought, worship, speech, association and choice. We also believe in the innate worth of the individual and the right to be independent and to seek a better life through initiative, enterprise and personal responsibility. We also stand for a just and humane society where those who cannot provide for themselves can still live in dignity.
I am personally grateful that our nation plays an essential role in helping many people enjoy these basic rights and freedoms by means of our migration program and our refugee and humanitarian program. I am also grateful for the opportunities that we have as community members to individually welcome and support all new Australians, including refugees.
For the past two years I have established my office as a collection point for the Red Cross’s annual Christmas food drive for refugees. In addition, I do everything I can to support those who I know personally. Earlier this year I was introduced to a newly arrived refugee family that lives not far from my home. It has been my privilege to meet with this family and to help them find their feet in various ways, including dropping the daughter off to school and, using one of my friends as a translator, speaking to the family so that I may be of greater assistance. Amongst other things, I learned that the father wanted to know more about using the bus timetable. So I returned on a different day to assist the father to learn how to use the bus timetable. It brings me great joy to see others receive the same opportunity as we do here in Australia.
Mr Rattenbury has moved this motion today because he has concerns about some aspects of the refugee and humanitarian program, and rightly so. As I hope I have made clear, the Canberra Liberals wish for this program to work in the best possible way. We see no issue in forwarding the specific concerns raised to the commonwealth government. For that reason, we will not oppose or seek to amend Mr Rattenbury’s motion.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and