Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4842 We believe that decisions regarding Australias Refugee and Humanitarian Program should be determined on the basis of need for humanitarian assistance, rather than perceptions or assumptions about a groups capacity to resettle or integrate. We urge all Australians, particularly our elected representatives, to stand up in support of African refugees who have resettled in Australia, to support their further resettlement and family reunification, and to strengthen services that make the transition to Australia easily. At the local level, we have seen a peaceful rally, in which the member for Sanderson marched, and letters presented to the Chief Minister, me, the member for Casuarina and other MLAs. This morning, the Multicultural Council of the NT had a letter to the editor printed headed African friends hurt by mean-spirited slurs, and there have been countless Territorians lamenting that, once again, federal politicians are playing the race card in the lead-up to the election for their own ends. I have received copies of the letters that have been sent to Mr Andrews, and we are looking forward to his response and, dare I say, his retraction of his cynical and hurtful words. Considering the reaction of many ordinary Territorians, and the overwhelming reaction of so many Australians, it has been surprising that the CLP has not made its position clear. I am yet to see or hear a word from the CLP saying Kevin Andrews was wrong. Whilst no one will ever forget that the CLP preferenced Pauline Hansons One Nation Party in the 2001 Territory election, I am surprised that the CLP has not said it also condemns Kevin Andrews and all those in the federal Liberal Party machine for degrading Australian politics once again. I would like to be able to inform the federal government and the rest of the community that all members of the Northern Territory parliament stand as one in support for our African community, and against the cynical and disgraceful behaviour of a federal Liberal Immigration minister and the shadowy people behind him. Where do the CLP representatives in this Chamber stand on this subject? Do they stand with their colleagues in the federal Liberal Party, Kevin Andrews, David Tollner and Nigel Scullion? There is an opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition to make her position very clear. Or do they stand with the thousands of fair-minded Territorians and Australians, 32 organisations who came together to produce the open letter and, of course, the African community in our Northern Territory? Ms CARNEY (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, I am glad - although elsewhere others might not be - that the minister has brought on this report this morning. I, like everyone else, am bound to tell the truth in this place and, indeed, outside. Before I give you a very direct response to your report, minister, I was asked about this last week by the ABC, and I had not heard Mr Andrews comments. I have not, to this day, read them, so I rely on media reports since then that I have both heard and read. I do not agree at all with what Kevin Andrews said. Whether that has ramifications beyond the parliament, so be it. In this job, you have to follow your conscience. As a human being, I believe what Andrews said was offensive. I mentioned to my colleagues what I was going to say in response. In essence, I asked whether they were okay with that, and they are okay with my comments and they stand behind me. So, thank you for the opportunity. You have asked a direct question; we will give you a direct response. Do with it what you will. Mr WOOD (Nelson): Madam Speaker, I welcome the ministers report. It is one of the great dangers in society that we tend to generalise. We generalise about Aboriginal people, Americans, whingeing Poms, and Lebanese. This is yet another case of where people generalise. I do not support what Kevin Andrews said and, just as importantly, I do not support what Pauline Hanson said, which is more offensive. She said that these people bring AIDS. It is a disgrace for any politician to say that. I do not support what either of these politicians said. I would like to have been at the rally on Wednesday. It happened to be General Business Day. I was giving a speech at that time, unfortunately. I would like to have sung the song because, as a member of Darwin Chorale, we have had a multicultural choir which learnt that song, and I would like to have joined in with those people. I referee soccer from time to time, and quite a number of our Sudanese people play soccer. They play it well. I wish they would come and make their home in the rural area, but the costs are a bit high for them to live in the rural area. I digress, but I wish they would join the Litchfield Soccer Club because they love their soccer.