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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4051 ..



Before closing I will address the comments that Mr Pratt made about some of the difficulties the Multicultural Council is experiencing at the moment with its affairs. The ACT government is well aware of those events and is closely monitoring them. Senior officers of the Office of Multicultural Affairs have attended all those events. I have taken a deliberate decision not to, cognisant of the difficulties the community is working through.

I am aware of Mrs Cross's interest in the difficulties being faced by the Multicultural Council. It is an important peak body for multicultural communities in the ACT and one that I support fully, as does my government through funding. We are concerned about the imbroglio and about bringing those difficulties to a conclusion, and I have taken advice from my department on those matters. I have been loathe to intervene. It is a community organisation, and the government is not directly responsible for its internal operations or arrangements. It is not appropriate that the government interfere or intervene.

I am nevertheless mindful that the council receives significant funding from the ACT government-indeed, from the people of the ACT. There are issues around the extent to which a government can continue to ask the people of Canberra to fund an organisation that is experiencing the level of difficulty that the Multicultural Council is. In the context of that, I have asked the Office of Multicultural Affairs to give whatever support and advice it can to assist in resolving these issues, which over the last six weeks or so have achieved such proportions.

I have asked my office to make these suggestions, without any wish to interfere in the internal operations of the council, but it is my view that the council needs to take a step back, take a deep breath and invite the ACT Electoral Commissioner, Phillip Green, to develop a set of rules and procedures for elections. They need to invite the Electoral Commissioner to conduct elections in accordance with rules determined by him, in consultation with the members of the council, in order to bring those difficulties to a satisfactory conclusion.

I am sure that with goodwill the issues can be resolved. I do not say this with any view that they cannot be resolved, but I think everybody needs to be aware that this organisation is in receipt of considerable public funding and I cannot, in all conscience, persist in the funding of that organisation if it does not resolve its issues.


(5.11): I rise to speak to Mr Pratt's MPI. I understand the sentiment that Mr Pratt was putting in this MPI, and there were many things that he said in his speech that I support. However, I did advise Mr Pratt earlier that I could not support the comment about the government not supporting the multicultural community. I understand the motivation behind it, and I will address it in my speech.

Some of the initiatives that I see the government undertake indicate otherwise-that it is a very strong supporter of the multicultural community. As I said, I agree with some of the sentiment Mr Pratt expressed in his speech, which is in regard to some of the lack of leadership in other areas. Because I have taken a personal interest in this, I am aware that the Chief Minister has been monitoring things behind the scenes and has in fact been given regular briefs on this matter. Unlike those who want to politicise this, I have

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