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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3647 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I am grateful to Mrs Burke for raising the issue. I do not think governments, of whatever persuasion, need to trumpet their successes. Those successes should be givens. We should expect them. The community should expect them and we should deliver them. We should highlight the failures and correct them, but in the atmosphere of a positive critique. I do not think we should be politicising the issue.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (4.42): At the risk of being told that I am politicising these issues, I want to refer to some of the things that government in the ACT has been doing to address what we would see as a reinforcement of the strong multicultural framework on which the ACT is built, addressing particularly recent racially based incidents in this community and elsewhere in order to ensure that we can look our citizens in the eye and say clearly that we believe that it is important to prevent such incidents and that we have taken steps to do so.

Mrs Burke talked about the value of diversity in the community. That is a very worthwhile point to note. It is also important to work out how we take that further and, through education and in other ways, encourage and promote a sense that the ACT being a multicultural community is a matter of great profit to the rest of the community; that by having a sense of excitement and pride about the value of that concept, by thinking of the good things it means and not of the supposedly bad things it might mean, particularly in terms of stereotypes and so on, we engender a stronger sense of acceptance of, and growth in, that concept and therefore a stronger sense of engagement from people from other backgrounds.

The framework we laid down in May of this year, the framework for a multicultural ACT 2001-2005, sets out, from our point of view, what kind of vision we should have to build on this sort of framework. In recent days-not so much in the ACT, I am pleased to say, but certainly in other parts of Australia-there has been debate about whether particular ethnic groups are more or less responsible for criminal behaviours. That is a debate which I am hoping will never be particularly vigorous in the ACT, because it is a particularly counterproductive kind of debate.

My colleague has shown how we as a community in the ACT, and we as Australians, have benefited enormously from multiculturalism and diversity. The participation of Mrs Burke and Mr Hargreaves in this place, in a sense, is evidence of that. Why people focus on negative stereotypes and put at risk those benefits is an issue which is addressed to us all.

The One Nation phenomenon, with its simplistic rhetoric about sameness and about everyone having the same views, is a matter of concern. The intolerance that indicates is a real challenge for all of us, although perhaps not as much here as in other parts of Australia.

I have been welcomed in recent months as Chief Minister to a very large number of multicultural and ethic community functions. The warmth of the welcome has always been very solid, reinforcing the benefits that flow from this kind of experience. A desire has grown from that to ensure that we push as much as possible the sense of excitement and benefit that flows to all of our community from these sorts of things.

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