Page 3272 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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which is to marginalise the radicals in their communities. That is a golden step forward to exercising community safety. The Chief Minister has a duty of care to take that approach to these sorts of problems.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): The member’s time has expired.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (4.37): Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” Social cohesion in the ACT, as demonstrated by tolerance and respect for all cultures and religions, continues to be strong. Fortunately, we have not experienced the significant incidences of racial or religious intolerance that other cities have experienced. I sincerely hope that we never do.

Multiculturalism, and the active participation of diverse cultures in the city’s governance, is alive and well here and it underpins the success our community has had in maintaining a harmonious environment for all. That these are uncertain times makes it all the more important that we reassert our commitment to fostering social cohesion. The ACT government is continuing to provide opportunities to the people of Canberra to do just that.

I thank Ms Porter for submitting this matter of public importance for discussion. It gives us the opportunity to discuss today the issues that surround these matters. Yes, these are uncertain times and there is a certain amount of confusion, but I think that it pays for us to have the conversation, to discuss publicly the issues that actually underpin our foundations as a society, which is what we are doing here today.

Members will be aware that the ACT government has enacted Australia’s first Human Rights Act, which is a policy to ensure dignity and respect for all Canberra citizens through the protection and promotion of their human rights. It is founded on the premise that human rights are not a reward that is bestowed on selected people in the community. They are fundamental and universal rights.

The government’s antiracism strategic plan, entitled “Facing up to racism: a strategic plan addressing racism and unfair discrimination 2004-2008”, provides the framework within which ACT government agencies will advance initiatives, programs and services designed to address racism and discrimination.

The ACT government provides funding through the multicultural grants program to support cultural events and participation in the National Multicultural Festival, which encourages organisations to foster a climate of inclusion based on their culture. The festival, over 10 days, showcases Canberra’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity. As Minister Hargreaves has reported to the Assembly, participation in the National Multicultural Festival is increasing, with the festival this year attracting 125,000 people from all backgrounds at over 76 events. The ACT government also provides funding for community language skills so that members of the multicultural community can teach their respective cultures and languages.

It is abundantly evident to me that Canberrans, whatever their beliefs or background, have a strong sense of community and look after each other. Canberrans are keen to

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