Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4038 ..
Discussion of matter of public importance
MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Ms Dundas and Mr Pratt proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mr Pratt be submitted to the Assembly, namely:
The lack of support given to the multicultural community by the ACT Government.
MR PRATT(4.17): I would like to talk today about the lack of support given to the multicultural community by the ACT government. Over the last month, there have been a number of events and issues within the multicultural community of Canberra. I have attended these events and have seen issues relating to the multicultural community emerge for both individuals and organisations.
Unfortunately, the government-in particular the Chief Minister, not forgetting that he is also getting paid to be the Minister for Community Affairs-has not found the time to attend crucial events, and when he does, delivers divisive and ill-informed speeches that have the potential to create disharmony rather than harmony in the multicultural community.
Mr Wood: Where have you been? Get real!
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Wood!
Mr Wood: This is another unfounded, off-the-top-of-the-head statement, for heaven's sake!
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Wood! You will have a chance to respond to it in due course.
MR PRATT: Keep quiet, Mr Wood. Thank you, Mr Speaker. This harmony is much needed and is frequently lacking from our Labor government. Let me juxtapose my comment with an example. The Chief Minister's 30th anniversary of multiculturalism speech was deemed by the multicultural community to be "irrelevant", "a let-down", "highly politicised"and "ignorant". These are comments I receive from multicultural community members who contact my office looking for direction and support from the Assembly. Clearly, they are not receiving it from the government.
The Chief Minister's speech of 30 September attacked this nation and its handling of national and international affairs, predictably slagging off the federal government about war and refugee matters. This neither impressed the multicultural community nor the Canberrans in general who have heard about the speech. Why?
Firstly, because many members of the multicultural community, particularly its leaders, have a greater understanding of the harsh realities of international affairs and the deep complexities of Australia's national and international obligations-and, indeed, are more experienced and skilled in these issues than the Chief Minister and most politicians,