Page 420 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 12 February 2013

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The forum was funded by a grant through AusAID. This was supported by the federal government and requested by the steering committee. It attracted 18 women parliamentarians from across the Pacific who worked hard with a number of members of the steering committee and other women parliamentarians from Australia and New Zealand, to examine and focus on the needs of women members of parliament in the Pacific and the needs of those seeking office. In addition, we examined how to support parliaments themselves and the staff.

The AusAID support enables a five-year program of which the forum is the first step. On the second day, the forum drew up a six-month forward plan with some specific outcomes. The next forum will be held in the Pacific in approximately 12 months. In the meantime, according to the six-month plan, work will be carried out in individual Pacific countries as well as across Pacific countries, together with the continuing twinning arrangements.

Participants also affirmed their support of the twinning arrangements and requested more Pacific countries to be included. There were a number of presentations, including an academic presentation from a professor at Harvard University, from AusAID, and also from the ANU. As members would know, we are twinned with Kiribati. Indeed, a number of women members from the Kiribati parliament joined us at the forum. A full report of the forum, its participants and its outcomes will be provided in the very near future.

Church service

Majura Women’s Group

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (5.11): I rise to speak about yesterday’s church service to mark the opening of the parliamentary year for the Legislative Assembly for the ACT. It was a resounding success. All who attended would be able to attest to the sanctity, serenity and gravitas that it was conducted under.

I think due thanks go to the various members of the faith and spiritual traditions who attended, including the Christian denominations present. Presbyterians, the Salvation Army, Christian Science, Russian Orthodox, Australian Christian Churches, Wesley Uniting and Catholics were all present. Special thanks also go to the non-Christian denominations who attended. The Tibetan Buddhists, the Jewish community and the Baha’is all made their presence felt. Their representatives gave some moving greetings in the service and filled the pews with their members.

Madam Speaker, may I commend you most sincerely for your initiative and note that you are well deserving of the praise you have received from the community for your belief in this service. I applaud your perseverance and courage in the face of threats from some of those opposite. I really do think that this was an entirely appropriate forum for some interfaith dialogue and a coming together of very many of Canberra’s faith and spiritual traditions.

Multifaith services are not controversial anywhere else in Australia and it speaks volumes about Labor and the Greens’ radical agenda that they would politicise such

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