Page 3269 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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Tolerance, born of respect, mateship, a fair go: we all know what these words mean in practice and we do not need to have swum at Bondi Beach, eaten a meat pie at the football or gone to Sunday school to have absorbed these values into the core of our being. We can learn them in the synagogue, the temple, the mosque, from the example of our parents, from our teachers, from our friends, from public figures, from any number of sources.

We can learn from history too, of course. Dr Nelson believes that among the true-blue stories that ought to be taught to Muslim school students is the story of Simpson and his donkey. Why not? Good choice, Dr Nelson. John Simpson, whose real name was John Simpson Fitzpatrick, actually a Scot, was a man of distinctly antiauthoritarian bent. John Simpson Fitzpatrick was a sailor who arrived in Australia after jumping ship at Fremantle. John Simpson Fitzpatrick was an illegal immigrant. Somehow, despite all that, the hero of Anzac embodies things we believe to be important.

There are many sources from which we can learn values such as respect and tolerance of diversity. It is important, of course, that a community sees that these values are afforded some value at an official level. These are among the values the ACT government foster through our framework for a multicultural ACT, our strategic plan addressing racism and unfair discrimination, the Canberra social plan and, of course, the Human Rights Act.

The sentiments, attitudes and behaviours that are encouraged by these social documents are helping us to build an inclusive community in which each of us has the opportunity to reach our potential and each of us contributes to the life and personality of the society we share. More than a fifth of those who call Canberra home were not born in Australia. Nearly a fifth of the children in our schools either were born overseas or have a parent born overseas. Over the past half a century our community has been transformed by diversity.

This is a community that cannot survive without tolerance and respect. It is a community of many vocabularies, but each of them has its own terms for tolerance, respect, mateship and a fair go. The war on terror has made us doubt that. We must remind ourselves of it, and I am grateful for the opportunity today to be able to take part in that process.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (4.27): Mr Speaker, this motion is all about a fine principle, and I thank Ms Porter for bringing it on. However, I have to think that in some ways it reflects a certain hypocrisy on the part of Mr Stanhope, who has had a lot to say in recent times about intolerance and disrespect. One would hope that we would see a broader approach to these sensitive issues.

The Chief Minister has failed in his fundamental duty to community safety, above which he puts not only his own self-preservation but also the rights of dangerous and radical minority elements. This government does not possess a serious management culture in relation to emergency planning. They fly by the seat of their pants in what is purely reaction-based governance. They lack the ability to think proactively that is greatly needed in order to protect our community and they lack the leadership to deal with radicalism.

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