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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 35 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

who gather at events such as the football, watching and supporting the Tuggeranong Football Club; it is sharing a drink and a yarn at the Buffaloes Club on a Friday night; it is enjoying the community spirit expressed each year in the Tuggeranong Community Festival; and taking part in Tuggeranong Community Council discussions also has its influence on those taking part. Of course, membership of school boards kept me abreast of how parents and teachers struggle together to bring quality education for their kids.

Mr Speaker, my vision also stems from my association with the Australian Labor Party. The Labor Party plays a vital role in articulating the dreams of ordinary people. It is able to articulate ways of addressing the many social justice issues confronting us today. It is able to give expression to the directions we should take on educational issues, public services, cultural issues and issues of social conscience, all based on principles of social justice and economic security, principles of free speech and freedom of association, compassion and tolerance. Membership of such a party gives me a framework to guide my work for the constituency I represent - the ordinary family man and woman. I am proud to belong to such a party and immensely proud that I can represent it in this Assembly. Mr Speaker, each of us has a vision. My vision is that the kids today are able to realise the same expectations I had when I left school; that is, to have a good prospect of employment, employment in a satisfying and rewarding career with high levels of self-esteem, to take their place in society. Unfortunately, they do not have this expectation today, and I fear that unless we do something about it they never will.

I would like to see a Canberra where cultural diversity is celebrated in real terms, where interracial differences do not exist, where the different cultures are encouraged to be part of our society and where we take advantage of the richness of those cultures to enrich our world. I am passionate about a fair deal for our indigenous people and for the people of non-English-speaking backgrounds and the elimination of every kind of prejudice and discrimination. Mr Speaker, how many of us can describe in 20 words or less our cultural heritage? Not many, I suggest. In Australia, we have two heritages running parallel to each other - those of indigenous peoples and those imported national heritages from the many peoples who have chosen to make Australia their home. We should celebrate 40,000 years of indigenous history and also the last 200 years of the combination of those many cultures which make up Australia today.

The challenge is to meld all cultural heritages into one. There are ethnic communities in Canberra which have gone some way to melding their unique culture into the Australian way of life. Two which come to mind are the Philippine community and the Lao community, which have both melded into our community in a way which is a fine example to us all. I am proud to be associated with these communities and look forward to a close association with many more. So, how do we do it? We embrace the spirit of reconciliation in our hearts as well as in other ways; we encourage the celebration of other cultures and foster the continuation of diverse languages, music and personal beliefs through education and the arts. The Assembly should take a leadership role in this most essential part of our community development.

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