Welcoming Cities Network
Thank you, Madam Speaker, and I thank Mr Barr for bringing this motion before the Assembly today.
The Canberra Liberals acknowledge that our nation is built upon migration and the principles of multiculturalism. We are proud of Australia’s multicultural history. This is not an academic discussion for me, Madam Speaker. I myself am a migrant who found shelter in Australia. Without this opportunity, my life would have turned out very differently. I note that this is also the case for my Liberal colleagues Ms Lee and Mr Hanson.
The Canberra Liberals also take great pride in the generous welcome that our nation gives to new Australians from refugee backgrounds. Whenever I think of refugees, I think of my good friend and mentor, Steve Doszpot, who understood the importance of Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program with an intimacy that none of us in this room will ever be able to equal. Steve and his family escaped the Russian occupation of Hungary in 1957 and spent time in various refugee camps before receiving the miraculous news that the entire family had been accepted for resettlement in Australia.
Just last night, I met a refugee from Afghanistan named Hangama, who found a warm embrace and new life here in Australia. As she explained, when she was young, she had never even heard of Australia, but she knew in her heart that there must be somewhere where life would be better for her. Now she and her young son have found that better life here with us.
This is a good outcome for them, but it is also a good outcome for Canberra. Residents with an assortment of cultures and different faiths, often speaking a multitude of languages, enrich our city. Research has found strong positive links between culturally and linguistically diverse populations and things such as business performance, educational outcomes, technological and workplace innovation, improved decision-making, increased creativity, community resilience, liveability, economic sustainability, and, of course, the simple enjoyment that comes from enjoying each other’s contributions to the vibrancy of a place.
The Canberra Liberals welcome the ACT’s membership in the Welcoming Cities Network. I commend this motion to the Assembly.