Page 1152 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 28 March 2017

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MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what role do strong protections from racism have in ensuring that people from diverse backgrounds are able to fully participate in our community?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Pettersson for his supplementary question. As we work to ensure that our newly arrived and multicultural Canberrans have adequate access to services and supports, none of it matters if these members of our community do not feel at home in Canberra.

One of the great privileges I have as Minister for Multicultural Affairs is to meet community members and to hear their stories. One common thread that runs through almost all of their stories is the struggle and sacrifice they have made to come to Australia and the determination with which they have faced challenges, including racism, in Australia.

The Racial Discrimination Act, as it currently stands, provides a clear message about what is and is not acceptable in our community. It acknowledges the cost of speech to those who face insults, taunts and discrimination on a daily basis, and provides a means of redress and acknowledgement. It enables our newly arrived and multicultural Canberrans to feel that the government—and the law—understands their situation and stands up on their behalf.

In light of the federal Liberal government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, the importance of this legislation in helping all Canberrans feel that someone is on their side cannot be understated. The proposed change to section 18C of this law simply reinforces the barriers that we are working to tear down in the ACT government. We cannot just hear their stores; we must take a stand. This is what the ACT Labor Party has been doing in many public statements. I am yet to see a public statement from a member of the Canberra Liberals on this matter, and I am sorry about that.

Mr Barr: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

Supplementary answer to question without notice

Animals—dog attack

MS FITZHARRIS: In further advice to Mr Doszpot on the question he asked earlier regarding a dog attack, I can inform him that infringement notices were issued to both dog walkers, as they were the carers of the dogs involved in the attack incident: $350 each. The owners were not penalised because the dogs were not in their control at the time of the incident.

However the following conditions have been imposed on the dogs:

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