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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 337 ..

By not adequately consulting the community, the government made a mess of this project by envisaging a much bigger car park and then revising the design due to local concerns about traffic management and the loss of trees. The Weston Creek Community Council said that fewer parking spaces meant the project was not worth the expense. The government missed the central issue, which concerns people losing green space important to them for relaxing with family, friends and community and also for recreational use during a pandemic, when people have become more isolated in their communities than ever before.

In August 2020 a petition was presented to the Legislative Assembly with more than 1,000 signatures, and an ongoing campaign culminated in the Save Coolo Park Protest Picnic, which I attended along with my colleague Ms Davidson on 31 January. It was a fabulous day listening to music together in an outdoor setting, enjoying the benefits of this green space. It was a win for the community, and I congratulate them on their strong advocacy.

Perhaps the government could instead create more shops and services in the Molonglo Valley, which is putting pressure on Cooleman Court and the surrounding parking spaces. Other measures, as advocated by the Weston Creek Community Council, could also be pursued.

On 26 January 2021, along with my colleagues Elizabeth Lee and Peter Cain, I had the pleasure of attending the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services Australia Day event at Glebe Park. We saw dancers from El Salvador, Iraq and Fiji and welcomed our newest arrivals to Australia and Canberra. As Mrs Matilda House said in her welcome to country, “You are welcome here.”

Celebrating Australia Day with traditional music and colourful dance is what diversity and inclusion is all about. I have been told by people that come from oppressive regimes that they appreciate that Australia is democratic and free, and accepts people of different religious and cultural backgrounds, and they want to contribute to their new country.

As a daughter of immigrant parents myself, I understand how important services such as information, advocacy and referral are in assisting migrants and refugees to settle into the Canberra community. From the conversations that I had on the day, there are some areas that are currently lacking. When you do not have the contacts, know the language or the systems, it helps to have access to services like those that MARSS provides, such as language, welfare and employment for people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

I want to pay tribute especially to their volunteers, many of whom are migrants or refugees themselves, who know how it feels to come to a new country and who help our newest arrivals have a positive experience. I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the MARSS leadership team, including Chairperson David Ng; Deputy Chair Andrew Alwast OAM; Treasurer Mithun Alexander; Secretary Andrew Ng; Public Officer Borhan Uddin Ahmed; board member Simon Kwan Kit Ng; board

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