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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 27 September 2007) . . Page.. 2792 ..

Tabling statement, dated 27 September 2007.

Multicultural mission to China

Paper and statement by minister

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Housing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

The Multicultural Mission to China—Report.

I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MR HARGREAVES: It is with great pleasure that I table my report on my visit to China, the economic powerhouse of the world that has a special relationship with Canberra. That relationship is built on a number of factors. First and foremost, we are the sister city of Beijing and have a formal agreement with the city of Hangzhou. I met with the vice mayors of both places and both men remarked on the importance of the relationship.

But they both also knew of my effort as Minister for Multicultural Affairs to build a harmonious community made up of many ethnic groups, a community of many cultures but still only one community. It was interesting to learn that China also has a multicultural community, made up of 55 ethnic groups, and the officials I met with were very interested in our approach and successes in the ACT, particularly our multicultural strategy. Our approach struck a chord wherever we went because it was in stark contrast to what the Howard government is doing, creating division and playing different segments of the community off against each other.

The ACT multicultural festival was also well known in each of the four cities we visited, so much so that the director of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Xi’an was able to announce at our meeting that she has decided to send the famous shadow puppets to appear at the 2008 festival. She also arranged our attendance at a performance of the Royal Dance Theatre because that troupe will be visiting Sydney at the time of our festival. Madam Chung insists that the troupe, or at least part of it, should participate in the festival. I have asked the festival organisers to liaise with her to see how this can be made possible.

The cities I visited included current and former capitals of China, as well as economic hubs such as Shanghai. I met principally with the municipal levels of government and readily established a rapport because, although the scale of our mutual difficulties differs, the problems are the same: how to cope with growth; the problem of the increasing numbers of motor vehicles, including parking and environmental impacts; moving large numbers of commuters on public transport; collection and disposal of waste; balancing development with a sustainable environment; providing affordable housing to housing disadvantaged or poor people; identifying and preserving heritage areas in the face of pressure from property developers; and catering for tourists.

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