Page 4199 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 24 October 2017

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ACT Assembly Clerk Tom Duncan and Deputy Clerk Max Kiermaier and their staff in all the various areas, such as the secretariat, Hansard, Library, ICT, administration; personnel, education, and all the attendants. I thank them all for their support over the past nine years.

My father was always reminding me as a young man that I as the eldest child would need to somehow thank Australia for the generosity shown to our family of refugees 60 years ago. My father passed away 16 years prior to my election to this Assembly, but I have always remembered his words. One of my remaining tasks is to thank our Prime Minister, on behalf of our family, and there are hundreds of thousands of other families like ours. I am not saying we are special, but we certainly want to thank the government for accepting us as refugees.

Our refugee family arrived in Australia in 1957: Istvan Doszpot; his wife, Anna; his mother in law, Borbala Cziegler; and his then three children, me, Anna and Gustav, with two more siblings, William and Mary, born in Australia. We found peace, freedom and acceptance in Australia. But my father, in his country of birth, Hungary, then a communist regime, was imprisoned for two years for daring to question the government when they were persecuting the church and impinging upon people’s fundamental freedoms.

Many of us here today and in our wider Canberra community share a common bond of having been migrants or refugees. We also share the gratitude of being able to live in a nation where we are able to be members of the political party of our choosing, to join or not join a union, to worship as we see fit and, with limited exceptions, to say what we like. My parents’ direct contribution in return for this opportunity was their energy, work ethic, family values and traditions, which they passed on to my siblings and me.

Madam Speaker, we are entering troubled times, where the freedoms we so value are slowly being eroded, where political correctness or downright bullying discourages many in our community from voicing an opinion unless it reflects the populist view of the day. My parents escaped from communism to give their children the right to free speech and the right and freedom to practise a religion. I think we owe our children the same right today—the right to be able to stand up and the right to voice their opinion before these values are completely eroded.

In closing, I simply wish to share with members of this Assembly and our Canberra community a personal philosophy that has helped me through some tough times. I commend these words to you, attributed to St Francis of Assisi:

Make us an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

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