Page 3941 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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MR STANHOPE: Anything is possible. I think it is fair to say that the question that has been asked to some extent reflects a major difficulty that we as a community and as a nation have in relation to our determination to combat terrorism and the rise of criminal terrorist behaviour within Australia, indeed throughout the world. It assumes that a part of the equation in meeting and combating terrorism is not to address the root causes or to seek to understand the cause of the anger and the feelings of alienation, exclusion and frustration that have led to some of the appalling criminal acts of terrorism that we have witnessed around the world.

It was in response to that that I decided to seek to establish a specific dedicated Muslim Advisory Council to deal with the government in the context of the current debate around terrorism and our response to terrorism as a community and a nation. It is another part, I believe, of the essential equation for dealing with terrorism. I believe it is a position that we as a nation and leaders from around Australia must increasingly take.

A legislative response such as the anti-terrorism bill is all well and good. It is appropriate and necessary, and it was for those reasons that I agreed to support it. But I agreed to support it in the context of a civil rights and human rights framework. One of the reasons that I have been as committed as I am to ensuring that the anti-terrorism bill is constructed within a civil liberties and human rights framework is because of my determination to ensure that it is not counterproductive and that it does not generate or create a backlash, that it does not engender unnecessary and avoidable feelings of anger and frustration and further alienate members of the Australian Muslim community who feel that they are the focus of community responses to terrorism.

We as a community need to address and attack the causes of terrorism and the possibility of terrorism. But we need always to focus on what it is that is generating these appalling acts of violence. I think that it is necessary to go back one step to seek to understand the reality of terrorism. I have yet to hear a cogent explanation, if we use the most recent and horrific example, of why four young British men without criminal records who were not known to the British security services travelled from Leeds to London, strapped on bombs and blew themselves up and, in the process of blowing themselves up, killed 52 of their innocent countrymen.

I do not understand why they did it. I challenge anybody to tell me why they did it. We need to understand what led to that degree of anger and those feelings of alienation that resulted in that behaviour. In order to do that, we need to address the causes of that behaviour. One way of doing that is to engage, to the greatest extent possible, with our Muslim communities.

Mr Pratt: Yes, yes and yes, but what about MACMA?

MR SPEAKER: Is that your question?

MR PRATT: No, Mr Speaker. My supplementary question is: Chief Minister, while we recognise the special issues around the Muslim community, who will now represent the myriad of other ethnic and multicultural groups at a ministerial advisory level? Will you set up a ministerial advisory group for other groups in the multicultural community in the absence of the disbanded MACMA? We get back to MACMA.

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