Page 236 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 10 February 2010

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I would like to note that other states in Australia have Islamic specific resources that encourage the learning of Islam at a higher level. The point here is that we are not favouring Islamic text as a genre. However, we do have 30,000 resources sitting in a centre, some of which, as I have already said, are over 300 years old, and these books are not getting used because they are not properly catalogued and they do not have a library space.

We are supportive of all religions. This motion today is recognising that this particular resource needs our assistance. If it has the opportunity to properly function, it can provide an invaluable service to the whole community. What a great shame it would be if in 10 years time we look back and think what could have been.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (7.45): I am pleased to rise this evening and discuss this matter raised by Ms Bresnan. I do so on behalf of the Chief Minister, who is the responsible minister but who is unavailable to be in the Assembly this evening. The Chief Minister has had circulated an amendment which I will move. I have lodged this amendment in my name but it is the same as the amendment circulated under the Chief Minister’s name. I move:

Omit paragraph (2), substitute:

“(2) acknowledges that:

(a) a range of Government funding programs exist to support the development of community and multicultural resources in the ACT; and

(b) the proposal to support the further establishment of Islamic library resources should be considered in the context of these programs should the proponent choose to submit an application.”.

I welcome this opportunity to speak to the motion this evening. Indeed, far from needing time to go away and investigate possible sources of support for an Islamic library which, of course, is the key element of Ms Bresnan’s motion this evening, I am very pleased to advise Ms Bresnan right now of the various avenues that already exist for support.

The government is slightly confused by Ms Bresnan’s call for the establishment of an Islamic library. The library already exists and has existed for some time. It is called the Australian National Islamic Library. It is located in the Canberra Islamic Centre and it is my understanding that it is in fact broadly accepted to be the best and the most appropriate home for such an outstanding collection of Islamic works. Indeed, as recently as this week, the owner of the collection, Mr Ahmed Youssef, has confirmed that he would not like to see the collection relocated from the Canberra Islamic Centre.

But the government is at a bit of a loss to understand Ms Bresnan’s media release earlier this week calling for a dedicated building for the collection. Perhaps Ms Bresnan could have considered consulting the owner of the collection before offering up his possessions for relocation.

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