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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4039 ..



including members in this place and the armchair experts who bleat on about these complex and sensitive issues in the community-members of the multicultural community can see through the fraudulence of the Chief Minister's speech, as it was put down on 30 September, multicultural day.

Secondly, members of the multicultural community are deeply disturbed that on multicultural day the Minister for Community Affairs, the Chief Minister, so busily ranting on about national and international matters, neglected to talk about ACT multiculturalism, neglected to celebrate the successes and the positives of ACT multiculturalism and neglected in that speech to address the major concerns of ACT multiculturalism.

Thirdly, members of the multicultural community are very uncomfortable about the politically and ethnically divisive issues raised by the Chief Minister in that speech. The Minister for Community Affairs is supposed to be promoting harmony within the multicultural community and between it and the broader ACT community. He should not inflame passions by diving into divisive issues for gratuitous political point scoring. When these issues are raised, they quickly polarise communities across the multicultural community and often within ethnic groupings. In his speech on this occasion the Chief Minister was playing with fire and did little for harmony within the ACT.

Most importantly, his speech did not highlight any of Canberra's multicultural community achievements. Is the Chief Minister so ignorant of his own portfolio areas that he is unable to celebrate the great strengths of our multicultural community? He neglected to mention the great strides taken in recent years by both the ACT Multicultural Council and the Migrant Resource Centre and also the establishment of many ethnic clubs across Canberra, such as the Hellenic Club and the Croatia Deakin Soccer Club and the contributions they have made to the community through funding and other support.

The Chief Minister also neglected to mention the successful and highly respected Canberra Multicultural Festival, which takes place each year. He overlooked the Beijing-Canberra sister city relationship and other sister city relationships that Canberra has. Relationships that were strongly regarded by the Liberal government, and still are by the Liberal opposition, are virtually ignored by the current Labor government. The Chief Minister also neglected to mention the establishment of the ACT Ethnic Schools Association and the great work they do in the multicultural community and beyond. All of this was neglected on 30 September, Multicultural Day.

Allow me to give another example of the government's lack of support for the multicultural community in Canberra. Let's have a look at the ACT Multicultural Council AGM last month. At the last moment, the Chief Minister, who was down to speak, was unable to attend, and he sent a departmental officer to represent him. Was this because he was afraid of the reception he would have received from the majority of members of the community? Or was it because he does not consider the ACT Multicultural Council's AGM, at which he was an official speaker, as I was, to be important enough to have the support of the government?

Mr Corbell

: Or maybe he was just unavoidably detained.

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