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Ms Tucker seems worried, as I said, about organised religion and the power of it; but look at the good things. All religions teach a sense of values. A good Christian who follows the tenets of the Christian faith, or a good Jew, a good Muslim or a good Buddhist, will be a good person. History is splattered with examples of good people who had good religious beliefs, in all denominations, because all religions fundamentally teach decent principles.

I think the vast majority of Canberrans expect us to continue with our prayer and will be somewhat disheartened if this prayer is abandoned. I think the rights of the majority have to be protected here and I think this Assembly would be somewhat empty without the prayer. I believe that 71 per cent of people in Canberra at present class themselves as Christians. Then, of course, there are Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and some people who have no religion. It is interesting, I think, to note what the president of the Ethnic Communities Council has said. Mr Cornwell read it out. Jas Manocha, the president of the Ethnic Communities Council, said that quite clearly God means more than just a Christian God. The Ethnic Communities Council, the representatives of all ethnic groups in the ACT, would be very distressed if we abandoned the prayer.

I would ask members of this Assembly to be tolerant and not go off on some private agenda which really is representative of only a very small proportion of the people in the ACT. I think the rights of the majority have to be protected. If this Assembly votes to get rid of the prayer and to get rid of all that very fine tradition, it is a very sad day.

MR MOORE (11.43): Madam Deputy Speaker, it is interesting to hear how intolerance can be clothed in so many different ways. The number of letters that the Speaker received in response to questioning religious communities, and what was said, is interesting to me. I would like to thank the Speaker and his office for circulating those letters. I am surprised that he did not read out the letter from the pastor of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, who wrote back with a very different view. I must say, quite clearly, that Mr Cornwell was not attempting in any way to hide this, because he circulated it to members. Allow me to read the reply. It says:

Thank you for giving our Church community the opportunity to respond to the proposal to replace the daily prayers with a reflection.

Australia has a Christian heritage which was and still is the predominant religious faith. But we are a nation with increasing religious diversity, the by-product of greater religious tolerance and increasing multi-culturalism. And although the Christian community finds comfort in the thought that their civil leaders share in the ideal of responsibility to God for decisions and actions, yet we can no longer presume that MLAs share this faith and ideal, nor for that matter can we expect them to. Further, the people whom they represent may not share our faith and ideal either. In recognising these dynamics, we cannot see why this proposal should not meet with approval.

That is a very tolerant approach.

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