Page 3942 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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MR STANHOPE: It is interesting, and I find it a matter of enormous concern that the Liberal Party is not interested in grappling with the issue of terrorism, that they are intent on continuing the alienation. We have the remarkable spectre in the ACT of the opposition spokesperson for multicultural affairs being banned from the mosque. In a situation in which the number one threat facing the nation is the prospect of a terrorist attack and in an environment where we need to embrace all of our communities, we have an opposition spokesperson for multicultural affairs representing the Liberal Party in this Assembly who has been banned by the Muslim community of Canberra from their mosque. They do not want him to darken their door—

Mr Smyth: I raise a point of order.

Mr Pratt: That is a load of bull, and you know it!

Mr Smyth: Under standing order 118 (b) the Chief Minister cannot debate the point. The question was about his abolition of MACMA and whether he will replace it so that other ethnicities can be represented.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the subject matter of the question, Chief Minister.

Ms MacDonald: I raise a point of order. I believe that Mr Pratt just said something that was rather unparliamentary. I ask that he withdraw it.

Mr Pratt: Mr Speaker, I ask that you determine whether the word “bull”—and that is the word that I said, which it was, by the way, a load of bull.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt, I warn you not to raise points of order to debate issues and attack other members in this place. I would not say that the word is unparliamentary. Chief Minister, come to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: I regard it as an incredibly low point in community connection that a member of this place has been advised that he is not welcome at the Canberra Islamic Mosque at Yarralumla. That is a matter of some genuine sadness and regret to me.

MACMA did serve a significant purpose. However, the government, under Minister Hargreaves, has pursued a vigorous program—and it may be that Mr Hargreaves is intent on explaining that level of connection with our diverse ethnic and multicultural community today. Mr Hargreaves will explain to you, Mr Pratt, and to the Assembly the level and degree of closeness and cooperation between this government and the different and diverse communities of the ACT.

I am sure it is a matter of real concern to the opposition that the relationship between the government and the different and various communities around Canberra is perhaps stronger than it has ever been. With the support of this government the Multicultural Festival goes from strength to strength. We are on the cusp of opening a multicultural centre, something that had been sought for years, indeed for the six long years of the previous Liberal government, but never delivered, as so little was delivered. We will in a very short time be opening a significant and major new facility for the multicultural communities of Canberra. They waited for a multicultural centre through

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