Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3649 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

We need therefore to reinforce a sense of gain, of advantage, that comes to our citizens from such activity and to minimise the kind of activity which this matter of public importance is addressed to-racially based incidents of any sort. I think that that would contribute not only to the taking up of opportunities like the one I mention but also to a greater sense of cosmopolitan atmosphere, a sense of a linguistic opportunity, a sense of us being very much closer to the centre of activity in this wide world of ours than our geography might suggest.

We have had discrimination legislation in place in this territory for 10 years. In the next couple of months, the 10th anniversary of the passing of our ACT Discrimination Act occurs. We have participated in a national project to develop some printed material and an Internet web site for schools entitled "Racism. No way". That is a very important gesture towards ensuring that we drive further a positive atmosphere on these issues in the ACT.

The opportunity for us to do much more in this respect is very strong. The universal support that these concepts enjoy in a place like this Legislative Assembly is a great asset to build upon. I hope that we will minimise racially based incidents in the future in the ACT by virtue of sending a very clear signal about what we see as the importance of those principles and the value of those things to the citizens of this community.

MS TUCKER (4.52): I know Mrs Burke wanted to make this a positive debate. I am very supportive of her attempt to do that, and I am pleased to support what is working well in our community. We have a very diverse community with many ethnic groups represented. We have a reasonably harmonious situation in the ACT. But to have a multicultural society we as a community have to acknowledge that the original dwellers of this land, the indigenous people of this land, are part of the multicultural community. I am surprised that that has not been raised.

Mr Humphries said that it has not come up as an issue that this year we are focusing not only on volunteers but on issues of racism, xenophobia and related intolerances. The latter has been very high in my understanding of this year. The Assembly education committee looked at children who are unlikely to complete school and how we can support them. In that inquiry there was significant evidence about racism in our schools, particularly against indigenous students but also against other groups of students who come from particular ethnic backgrounds and feel socially excluded for whatever reason. It is indeed a debate that is alive in the ACT for some of us. It is certainly alive for anyone who is working closely with the Aboriginal community in the ACT.

The report of the committee I chaired made recommendations on the broader community and social issues that are often the structural causes of racism and the exclusion of particular groups of people and antisocial acts against them. We see it in Sydney at the moment.

Mr Humphries talked about One Nation and its simplistic oneness, but it is more than that. The appeal of One Nation is not just the idea that we all have to be the same. One Nation is picking up on a growing insecurity in this country and a growing awareness that the egalitarian society we thought we had in Australia is disappearing. That is related to the fact that it is not so easy for all people to have a fair go in this community. This

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .