Page 4743 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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no commitment to multiculturalism, we now have a multicultural centre that is the envy of Australia. It is an achievement in which I take particular pride. We promised we would do it and we have done it.

The centre really has activated and energised the multicultural communities of the ACT. We have seen that just this last weekend, with a highly successful summit coordinated and facilitated by my colleague the minister for multicultural affairs, John Hargreaves. I have received enormously positive feedback from that summit.

It is this government’s commitment to a multicultural community that has resulted in this energising, this reengagement, indeed, the great excitement at the opening of such a fantastic multicultural facility as the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre, which will be at the heart of the Canberra community. It is fitting that the centre is in the North Building, across the square from and adjacent to the Assembly.

For the information of members, it is relevant that already there are 23 separate multicultural community groups and six peak organisations housed there. Some of the combinations of groups that are housed there really do go to the heart of what multiculturalism is about. We have representatives from the Pakistani, Hmong, Thai, Korean, Samoan and Russian communities, and it goes on and on. Six of the major peak multicultural organisations are now housed in accommodation built for their particular needs. It is accommodation of which they are enormously proud.

In these times we see what happens if we take our attention away from the need to continue to work for inclusiveness and tolerance and the need to embrace difference. Over the last few days we have seen most vividly in Sydney what happens when racial tensions escalate and when the inclusiveness and tolerance for which Australians are proudly famous begin to disintegrate in the most appalling way. We can see the ease with which racism and racial tensions can explode into violence, destruction and intolerance.

Sydney, at the moment, is a blight on Australia. One has to stop to consider our response to some of the communities at the heart of the violence and racism exhibited in our newspapers and on our television screens. Heaven forbid that we ever experience that in the ACT! It is this government’s absolute commitment that we will never in this community allow those divisions to be created. We are committed to our multiculturally diverse community and we will not tolerate the prospect of the community degenerating into those sorts of divisions. We will remain focused and maintain a commitment to tolerance, diversity and difference and to the strengths of a multicultural society.

I am pleased that, with the centre, we have been able to acknowledge one of Canberra’s great pioneers, Theo Notaras. He was the father, to some extent, of our multicultural community. He opened the Capital Cafe in Civic in 1927. This city grew up with the Capital Cafe—

MR SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.

Mr Stanhope: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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