Page 3265 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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our cultural differences, treating every cultural group with respect and promoting peace. There are practical ways that we can practise these approaches at an ACT level. Some of these, the government is already doing. When I say “celebrate our cultural differences”, I feel as though that is a problematic area as well because we do have certain standards that, as a society, we do share. We do want a peaceful society, we do want an equitable society and so on. I do not think that any culture is naturally warlike, naturally aggressive or anything like that. I do not think they belong to cultures; I think they belong to something else, which I believe education is part of overcoming.

The first manner by which we can practise social inclusion is building neighbourhoods. While I support larger regional events, I think we should also have more local festivals. I think that supporting and getting to know your neighbours is more than just “Neighbour for a day”. I think that planning helps with it; I think that community events help; and I think that keeping local shops and schools open is a help, too.

The second method is to celebrate our cultural differences via, for instance, the annual multicultural festival and the inclusion of teaching multicultural issues in the curriculum. I do note that there has been an abandonment of the ministerial advisory council. I am wondering about the wisdom of that. This government talks a lot about the disbanding of ATSIC. ATSIC had problems. The Ministerial Advisory Council on Multicultural Affairs had problems. But there may be other ways of dealing with them rather than disbanding the whole council.

Something that the Greens are involved in—in fact, probably were the spur for—is the ACT Peace Coalition, which is currently being developed by a number of groups. Coalition is going to be a very important way for us to go. We need to show our solidarity with particular people. This coalition of peace groups is made up of the ACT Churches Council; the Greens; the ACT Network Opposing War; Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine; the Construction, Forest, Mining and Energy Union, ACT branch; the left caucus of the ALP; Now we the people; the Quaker Peace Committee; the Socialist Alliance; UnionsACT; and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. So you can see it is a very broad-ranging group.

We need to be very watchful about building up nuclear practices in Australia. If there is terrorism, we need to reduce the opportunities for that. Finally, we need to remember that there has not yet been a terrorist act on Australian shores. Often I think our huge reactions are in response to other countries’ problems. I do believe we could be taking an entirely different approach while building our community and making it a much safer place for us all to be.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (4.13): Mr Speaker, I am pleased that Ms Porter has raised this very important issue in the Assembly today. It is very timely indeed, and no more so in terms of how we treat each other in the Canberra community and, closer to home, in this place. I most definitely agree that it is extremely important to maintain tolerance and respect within the Canberra community. I would say that this should be observed and practised at all times and, most importantly, it should start right here in this Assembly. Indeed, only this morning we adopted a code of conduct for members which, in the preamble, says:

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