Page 3163 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015

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Australia has shone through: compassionate, concerned, friendly and, most importantly, welcoming.

As Minister Berry has said, the community has responded to the leadership of all governments putting their hands up to play their part. Right now we are working with our federal, state and territory colleagues to rapidly develop a way to accept and accommodate an additional 12,000 refugees. Canberra is a relatively well-off city and we have a strong array of community services available. We are well prepared to resettle refugees who come under the increased intake commitment.

Our ACT service providers are well organised and have strong experience in settlement services, such as responding to torture and trauma, orientation services providing English language assistance, support with health, accommodation and referrals to a wide range of other services and programs. We are also very happy to work with our regional councils on settlement in neighbouring towns and cities if it was agreed that that would benefit refugee families.

Canberrans should know that we will provide every assistance to help families make new lives here, that they will not be left to their own devices and that we will be with them every step of the way in making Canberra their home. From our schools to our libraries to our community health and wellbeing services—each will play their part.

Minister Berry has outlined some of the specific services that will be available. We will also be seeking to identify if there are any service pressure points and labour shortages which will help determine the refugee intake to the ACT. But I think the most important thing that I know, and I am sure all people in this place know, is that the Canberra community will make them feel welcome and a valued part of our city.

I thank Minister Berry for bringing this motion before the Assembly this morning.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.40): I commend Ms Berry for bringing this motion before the Assembly today. I thought her speech was excellent. I also thank the Chief Minister for his words. I can assure the minister and members of this place that the sentiment and the will to do what we can in this city to support refugees, not just from this latest conflict but in an enduring sense, are shared across the political divide.

I think we have all been moved by the images we have seen on our screens of people fleeing persecution, fleeing the terrible events that are occurring in Iraq and Syria, and we feel compassion for those people. We put ourselves in their shoes. But as Ms Berry pointed out, that is not the only conflict that is occurring. These are not the only refugees that Australia and Canberra have sought to help, but also refugees from Vietnam, Lebanon, Kosovo, Sudan and so on.

We are a wealthy and generous nation and I think that has been reflected across both the federal government’s actions, supported by the federal opposition, and the actions across every state and territory parliament. I think that is a tremendous thing. And it is important that we have that bipartisan spirit so that we can bring the community with us in our endeavours.

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