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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3651 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

It is important to have this debate. It is a good thing that Mrs Burke raised this matter. In the ACT we are fortunate not to have experienced too much racial disharmony, although it is certainly there for the indigenous community. We need to recognise why that is. Compared to some other places, we do not have such difference and inequity, but we are heading in that direction. If this government is sincere about embracing multiculturalism and valuing diversity, it has to address the structural issues. You cannot have this debate without doing that.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.01): I wish to join other speakers in this important debate this evening to acknowledge, as has been acknowledged already, that our continuing support for multiculturalism is a feature of the position that each of us in this place takes. There is a broad acknowledgment that multiculturalism as we understand it is broadly accepted, applauded and celebrated by most members of our community. Most of us embrace and applaud it and are thankful for the fact that we have an increasingly cosmopolitan society that is prepared to celebrate, and express its pride in, the diverse nature of our emerging Australian identity, culture or ethos.

As has been suggested by other speakers, it can be taken as given that that is the view of perhaps all of us in this place. That is something we should certainly applaud. There is much to be proud of here in Canberra. Canberra is a very good example of the success of a community successfully developing and continuing to support its multicultural sense, its multicultural underpinning, its capacity to acknowledge the individual backgrounds and the individual cultural strength and cultural identity of a significant proportion of its members. I understand that 26 per cent of the people of Canberra were not born in Australia.

The extent to which we as a nation and Canberra as a community are so strongly linked to other nations around the world has significant implications. A significant proportion of our people have within their hearts a place for another nation and another culture. We need to acknowledge that, as we do. As a community, we need to allow ourselves to grow as a result of our significant diverse background.

Ms Tucker and Mrs Burke acknowledged the indigenous background and nature of this nation. It is worth acknowledging that to some extent Australia has always had a diverse culture and has always been a diverse nation. At the time of white settlement, it is estimated that there were at least 250 separate Aboriginal nations peaceably co-existing on the Australian mainland. To that extent, this nation has always been particularly diverse. We need to acknowledge that. As Ms Tucker said, we need to remain focused on the impact on the indigenous community of the arrival here of European settlers just over 200 years ago-the continuing adverse impact of the our broadly cosmopolitan and diverse population of essentially European, Asian and other backgrounds.

I say all those things to acknowledge my strong personal support. I am first generation Australian, a son of migrants. My party, the Labor Party, is committed to multiculturalism and to a fair and just society in which we are all treated fairly and

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