Page 3445 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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As Minister for Multicultural Affairs, I am proud and enormously privileged to be able to preside over the many ceremonies in the ACT conferring Australian citizenship. They are great events for people becoming Australian citizens, but also for Canberra, as these new citizens have chosen to make our community their home. The ceremonies are filled with fun, hope and excitement. I really enjoy presiding over them and sharing this time with our newest citizens, along with their families and their friends. Each new citizen brings new ideas and experiences which strengthen our community. Irrespective of our differences, I see just how much we hold common hopes and goals for the future for ourselves and our families and how together we can make this city stronger.

The ACT government plays an important role in providing services to support and assist refugees, asylum seekers and culturally and linguistically diverse communities to settle in our city. But, of course, we cannot do this alone. We are proud of those organisations and leaders in our community who share our passion and our commitment to help every person to reach their full potential. Through our work we are showing that we stand for unity, inclusion and hope against fear, intolerance and racism.

I again thank Dr Bourke for this motion, and I thank Canberrans for being part of a community that takes each other as we are, where our differences are respected and celebrated, where we say, “Welcome”, regardless of our backgrounds. Our government is committed to ensuring that this work continues, through protective laws, enabling policies and community connectedness. We recognise that the contribution of each person makes the strength, harmony and vigour of Canberra’s social, cultural and economic life so important. We will continue to support refugees and we will continue to celebrate our differences and acknowledge that it is these differences that make us wonderful and make our community strong. It is what makes Canberra a great place to live.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.55): I welcome this motion brought forward by Dr Bourke. He has made some very good points in the text he has laid out before the Assembly today. I agree with many of the points he has made and with the broader sentiment of the motion he has brought forward. His motion underlines the strength that cultural diversity brings to our city, the way the community values that diversity so strongly, and the many positive benefits that arise from it.

There are many examples we could all cite. Dr Bourke has particularly noted the windows to the world centenary initiative coming back during the 2015 Floriade festival. That is something that will bring a lot of enjoyment to the community. I was very pleased late last week to join a number of the embassies from the European Union who have brought a climate theme to their windows to the world program. They were focusing on the upcoming Paris climate conference with a countdown timer on how many days to go to the conference. I welcome both the EU’s leadership in the build-up to that conference in Paris in December and also their putting it on the agenda for windows to the world in the ACT to help bring the Australian community a broader understanding of the role of the climate talks, the importance of them and what is needed in terms of outcomes at those talks. I thank the European Union embassies in Canberra for putting on that particular initiative.

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