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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3414 ..


MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (6.19): ACT Labor will be supporting this motion today, and I thank Mrs Jones for bringing it forward and the engagement that has been incredibly constructive between her office, Mr Braddock’s office and mine. The ACT is a welcoming, diverse and inclusive society. Racism has no place in Canberra. We are a proud multicultural community, and there must be zero tolerance of any form of racist behaviour.

While the ACT has a strong legislative framework to address racial discrimination and vilifications, I do welcome the opportunity to hear from the community about the gaps, accessibility and adequacy of the system, including redress options as well as, importantly, the root causes. A committee inquiry doing a deep dive will be valuable.

It is important to flag that one of the biggest challenges, unfortunately, of racism that occurs in the public domain, or casual racism, is that it can be fleeting, it can be from strangers, and it can be over in an instant. This does not make it any less devastating, but it does mean it can be difficult to prove. It is also worth noting that some people may not wish to relive an incident, whether easy to prove or not, and so choose not to report it, rather than there necessarily being a barrier to reporting. Then there is racial prejudice, something which is even more insidious, and even unconscious, but can limit the ability of some in our community to participate or engage in society equally.

So it is important that we not only look to how reporting and redress systems work, and how we can support people to access those, but also how we can address the root or systemic causes of racism and racial prejudice in the ACT. I am glad and appreciate that the motion reflects this, because, as all the other speakers have flagged, what it comes down to—and I think we do all agree in this place—is that we do not want these incidents to occur in the first place, at all. There should never be a place for it.

We do have work underway in the ACT to address this, including: our Welcoming Cities work, the reforms of the Discrimination Act and the development of the multicultural recognition act, as well as our engagement with the proposed national anti-racism framework, which we publicly welcomed earlier this year. I would love to talk about these and the opportunities this inquiry presents but, in the interests of time, I will leave it there but look forward to engaging thoroughly and comprehensively, with my two portfolio hats, with the committee through this inquiry. I know that the Human Rights Commission stands ready to do so too.

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (6.22), in reply: In the interests of time, I thank all the parties for their support. I hope that there will genuinely be new and interesting information come out of the report, and I look forward to seeing a day when people from diverse backgrounds know very easily how to report these incidents, have the support to do so, at the very least, even if they are fleeting and hard to prove, and are able to offload those experiences and make a part of the statistical profile of what goes on in our city.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


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