Page 30 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella), by leave: I thank the Assembly for the opportunity to speak today, and I congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your election as Speaker of the Seventh ACT Legislative Assembly. I also congratulate our other six newly elected MLA colleagues who join us in this Assembly. I look forward to working with all of you over the next four years—and, of course, with other colleagues in the government, and in our opposition ranks who have also been re-elected.

With eight new faces in the Assembly, the first few weeks of going through Assembly “kindergarten” sessions together and learning about our new roles have given us an interesting opportunity to get to know each other prior to the eventual cut and thrust of everyday Assembly business life. This opportunity to become better acquainted at the start of our new political careers could lay the foundations for some new directions and perhaps improved cooperation. However, I dare say that this has probably been the idealistic vision of all of our predecessors in the previous six Assemblies before the political realities, pragmatism and cynicism kick in.

I would like your indulgence, Mr Speaker, to give you a brief background on my formative years and to pay dedication to the vision and courage of my parents, Stephen and Anna Doszpot, and their long and selfless journey from Hungary that eventually brought me to Canberra and now here today.

In 1956, the population of Australia was 9.5 million. The national focus was on the introduction of television in September and the staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne in November. Robert Gordon Menzies was the Prime Minister and Johnny O’Keeffe was emerging as the “wild one” of Australian rock ’n roll.

In 1956 in Hungary, the country of my birth, economic collapse and low standards of living caused by the reorganisation of the economy under the Soviet model provoked working class discontent, which gradually spread to the agricultural industry, the intelligentsia and university students. There was also growing opposition to the military occupation of Hungary by the Soviet Union.

On 23 October 1956, Hungarian students protested against the Soviet occupation of Hungary, which led to a spontaneous popular armed revolt that lasted until 4 November 1956. The revolution, led by former Prime Minister Imre Nagy, deposed the incumbent Soviet-backed government, disbanded the unpopular state police, and forced the withdrawal of the Soviet military presence, giving Hungarians a few precious days of freedom, a “Budapest Camelot”, before being subsequently crushed by the ruthless Soviet military machine, with a great loss of life.

Against this background, Mr Speaker, my family made plans to escape. My father had already been imprisoned for two years by the communists in 1948 for being a Catholic youth worker, and he was now targeted again. We became refugees from religious and political persecution in Hungary, and on 17 January 1957, Stephen and Anna Doszpot and their three children escaped from Hungary’s communist regime, fleeing to Yugoslavia.

Our escape was a great adventure for me as a child of eight, but a traumatic and a hazardous experience for my parents with three young children under eight years of

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