Wednesday 20 March 2019

Adjournment Debate
Christchurch – Condolence
Harmony Week

[6.41 p.m.]
Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Disability Services and Community Development) – Mr Deputy Speaker, like all members of this House I was shocked and horrified by the events that unfolded in New Zealand last week. I wanted tonight to place on the record my deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to those in New Zealand who have lost loved ones, families, friends, colleagues and fellow worshippers in last week’s senseless attack on people who were only peacefully participating in religious observance. I also give my support, prayers, thoughts and condolences to the Tasmanian Muslim and multicultural community as well as the wider Tasmanian community as we all come to terms with this tragedy.

Tasmanians all too well understand how difficult it is for the people of Christchurch at this time. What we know and have learnt is that there is absolutely no place in our community for the hatred and intolerance that has bred this barbaric act of terrorism. Therefore, we condemn in the strongest possible terms and we are united in our respect for diversity and the right to live our lives free from hatred and fear.

As Minister responsible for multicultural affairs, but most importantly as a proud Tasmanian, I passionately support the principles of diversity and therefore multiculturalism for the tremendous good it brings to the world and to Tasmania. Tasmania is a multicultural state. We are a dynamic, vibrant and inclusive community with such a great and wide diversity of cultures, traditions, backgrounds, languages, faiths and religions. Therefore, this week more than ever, we need to celebrate and welcome diversity in our community and show that harmony in Tasmania is stronger than evil.

This week is Harmony Week, a week of celebrations which includes Harmony Day tomorrow, Thursday 21 March. It is the same day as the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Harmony Day was first celebrated in Australia in 1999. Today, 20 years later, Harmony Day and Harmony Week have grown to become a uniting and much valued opportunity for Australians to come together and celebrate our cultural diversity.

The colour orange has been chosen to represent Harmony Day. Traditionally, orange signifies social communication and meaningful conversation. It also relates to the freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect. It is also fitting that the theme for Harmony Week is ‘everyone belongs’. It is in all of our interest to build a Tasmania that is harmonious, inclusive and a respectful place to live, where people from every corner of the world can belong, contribute, achieve and succeed together.

Australia today is one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world. We in Tasmania are fortunate to be part of that story. According to the 2016 ABS Census, more than 61 200 Tasmanians, or over 12 per cent of our population, were born overseas. Tasmanians come from 177 different countries with 159 identified languages spoken in Tasmanian homes. This wonderful diversity contributes to Tasmania’s success as a multicultural community. It brings with it exciting economic and social benefits that enhance every aspect of Tasmanians’ day-to-day lives. Every day Tasmanians benefit from the skills, knowledge, experiences, innovation, job creation and personal contributions of our culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse community.

There is no doubt that Tasmania is a much richer place to live, work, study and raise children because of the diversity today of its people. The Tasmanian Government therefore passionately wants to support, strengthen and continue our island’s multicultural success and to enable a Tasmania that is a very welcoming, inclusive, respectful and harmonious place to live.

I especially thank the Multicultural Council of Tasmania and staff from the government agencies, as well as all the many other multicultural communities, councils and organisations that have helped organise, coordinate and hold events in Harmony Week 2019. Through their combined efforts a large number of sensational events are being held right across Tasmania this week which will promote unity, understanding and respect for all individuals who call Tasmania home. Lastly, I want to wish all a happy and blessed Harmony Week and a blessed and happy Harmony Day tomorrow.