Page 575 - Week 02 - Thursday, 14 February 2013

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MADAM SPEAKER: I agree with you, attorney. I think that you do have to withdraw those words. On reflection, you are going to the motives of the mover, and that is disorderly.

MR DOSZPOT: I withdraw those terms, Madam Speaker. Mr Corbell, through his motion, would seek to denigrate any member of this place who would wish to pray at the commencement of an Assembly sitting day. Mr Corbell, through his motion, would seek to show a lack of tolerance for and to discriminate against those in our community whose faith or spiritual traditions guide their lives by denying them access to the Assembly, including its members and its facilities.

Mr Corbell and his colleagues, including his Green coalition partner, Mr Rattenbury, say there should be a clear separation of church and state. Madam Speaker, I do agree with the separation of church and state. But that is no reason to lock those of faith out of the Assembly or to fail to acknowledge the people in our community who choose faith or a spiritual tradition to shape their life principles. It is no reason to exclude people of faith from their free wish to pray, in a very public way, over the Assembly, its members and the people who work here.

Is Mr Corbell proposing that no events that involve religious faith can be held in this Assembly? Is this the case even if they hire the Assembly’s facilities? Does the Speaker’s approval of such a hiring amount to an endorsement by the Assembly of that religious group? Is Mr Corbell proposing that no government community service funding can go to religious groups for the delivery of those services?

This motion is—Madam Speaker, I am finding it difficult not to use the words that I wish to use—highly extreme. It is intolerant. It is an extreme form that amounts to a form of religious intolerance. Mr Corbell, this government and the Greens coalition partner, should they vote for this motion, should hang their heads in profound and utter shame.

The Canberra Liberals stand for freedom. We stand for tolerance. We stand for the rights of people in our community to access the Assembly. We stand for the rights of members in this place to interact with all sectors of our community. But it would appear from this motion that, as regards matters of faith, the Labor and Greens alliance stands for little more than restriction, intolerance and discrimination.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.10): I think this is a poorly considered motion, because I think those that will support it fail to understand what happened on Monday morning and fail to understand how the separation of powers has not been breached. The Assembly did not run a church service. The Speaker did not run a church service. A bishop from a church ran that service, backed up by more than a dozen other pastors, both male and female, both Christian and non-Christian to, in many ways I think, challenge us as an Assembly.

Had members opposite been in attendance they would know that it was quite ironic that an Indigenous pastor of an Orthodox Church of Shanghai and San Francisco went forward and challenged us about the things that we should do. In many ways it was no

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