Page 314 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 2008

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owes its originality and beauty to a sculptor and architect of genius—which is even a hard one for me to say—Juraj Dalmatinac. The Euphrasian Basilica in Porec, a masterpiece of early Christian art, is an example of a remarkable co-existence of the inherited building tradition and its Croatian inheritors—its best guardians.

I was pleased to see Mr Mulcahy and Mr Gentleman at the launch last night. It was a great opportunity for the Croatian community, others in the diplomatic community, local members of parliament and others, to come together—

Mr Hargreaves: Is that where you were?

MR SESELJA: That is why I was late to the multicultural ball last night. But it is an opportunity to see a great exhibition, if people have a chance to go and see it. It is a great tribute to what is a beautiful country. It has both natural beauty and a very rich cultural heritage. That is reflected by those six sites. The Croatian embassy is a beautiful building as well, put together by local builders. I would like to pay tribute to the local Croatian community, and particularly to the embassy and the charge d’affaires, Mr Ljubinko Matesic, who helped to put that together.

I also had the opportunity later—so I missed Mr Hargreaves’s speech—to attend the multicultural ball last night. It was a great disappointment to me that he did not even acknowledge me, even though I was included in the program. I did have the opportunity to speak later on. It was a fantastic opportunity to get together with representatives of multicultural communities and those who work tirelessly for their communities and for multiculturalism in Canberra. It was a fun celebration. The orchestra was spectacular and amazing. Anyone who was there would have been amazed at their talents. It was a sight to behold.

I did make the point that we in the Canberra Liberals value diversity in our community. We value the contribution of our multicultural communities in Canberra and Australia as a whole. It is fair to say that Australia would not be anywhere near the nation that it is, it would be nowhere near as much fun or as great a place to live if it were not for the contribution of our various ethnic groupings.

Whilst many people, like my parents, have had great opportunities by coming here—Australia is a fantastic land of opportunity—and most immigrants are very grateful for that and would not live anywhere else, it is also true that those who came and made their homes here did contribute back to the Australian community. Here in Canberra there are many notable examples of the contribution of various ethnic groups to the community.

I would like to thank the Multicultural Community Forum for putting it together. It was a spectacular night and a really enjoyable evening. I pay tribute in particular to Sam Wong and the work that he does, as well as the work of his board. I also pay tribute to the Hellenic Club, who hosted the event. It was a very good event. I look forward to going back there next year. I hope that when Mr Hargreaves is then in opposition, he will listen to my speech and get there in time, and I will acknowledge him.

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