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We might be a parliament of only six years’ existence, granted, but we are also a parliament which inherits those traditions. There are some things which have gone by the board because they are an affront to the way we do things in this day and age.
Mr Moore: Like the Litany that used to be read in the parliament.
MR HUMPHRIES: Maybe so. I would argue that today there is nothing about the prayer which should confront any individual who is interested genuinely in a tolerant, pluralistic society. You will see that everywhere you go in our society. These sorts of things happen all the time. I have been to functions that Mr Berry and Mr Moore have attended at which prayers have been read. These were functions organised by religious organisations, such as the opening of new wings of hospitals run by religious orders and so on. The hospice is an example. Mr Berry, Mr Moore and others have gone to those occasions knowingly and willingly, and apparently prepared to accept that there would be some overtly Christian symbolism, some leading of the congregation in prayer on those occasions.
Mr Berry: That is irrelevant.
MR HUMPHRIES: I do not think it is irrelevant. On those occasions these people who do not share those views were prepared to accept the views of people who were there. I would argue: If you could accept them there, why cannot you accept them in here?
Mr Moore: That is the difference.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Moore obviously thinks the Assembly is a different place and that in the Assembly, at least, we have to apply this levelling principle; that we ought have no features on the landscape which might offend certain people. I must say that that is a surprising argument. If any place in the entire Territory is likely to give people cause for offence at some point, it is the ACT Legislative Assembly, either by virtue of its existence, for some, or by virtue of the things that are said in this place about a whole range of political issues.
It seems to me, Madam Deputy Speaker, that we achieve nothing by taking this approach. I think that the prayer we read in this place does substantially reflect the spirituality of the majority of people in this community. At the last census a substantial majority of members of the community professed to subscribe to a Christian creed of one sort or another, or were Jews or Muslims. All of those faiths are monotheistic faiths and therefore believe in an Almighty God of the kind referred to in the prayer. Ms Tucker may feel that this is a Christian prayer. There is no doubt that it was Christian in origin; but we are entitled, I think, to take the words as they come. If there were a Jewish or Islamic believer in this place, I believe that they would have no difficulty in accepting the nature of the person called upon in that prayer and the tenor of the prayer.
Those things are cross-denominational and I suspect that they would not offend even people who believe in multiple gods, because those sentiments in that prayer are worth not just saying privately within our own minds and hearts but proclaiming to people as a way in which we want to proceed in this Assembly. I do hope that when we come to this place we work for the interests of the people of the Australian Capital Territory,