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Multicultural Friends of Parliament

25 May 2016

Wednesday 25 May 2016

[6.11 p.m.]

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I wanted to follow up on Mr Barnett's contribution and to acknowledge the role he has played in bringing the Multicultural Friends of Parliament back together after a lengthy delay, following the state election.  I also acknowledge that you, Madam Speaker, have been a consistent supporter of the multicultural friends of parliament.  In the last term of government, I would wager that you and I were the most regular attendees at the Multicultural Friends of Parliament meetings. 

I say this to Mr Barnett: in establishing the Multicultural Friends of Parliament, the purpose of the meeting was not to talk at our friends in the multicultural communities, nor to stand up a government minister of the day in order to spruik government policy.  The specific purpose of the Multicultural Friends of Parliament was to listen to the concerns and to the views of those many people and communities who make Tasmania a dynamic and multicultural community where peoples from over 170 different nations and cultures co-exist in peace and are represented.

I strongly urge Mr Barnett not to turn the Multicultural Friends of Parliament into a Liberal talkfest.  I thank you for your acknowledgement that it was a Greens minister who established the multicultural friends of parliament and the acknowledgement of Ms Archer's work.  The way we will make sure that our policy and legislative settings are the best they can be is by listening to the concerns of those communities.  They have some incredible insights into how we can improve policy and legislation, and where we can prioritise funding in order to enable people who come here from other places to live the best life they can possibly live. 

There are significant and specific issues that challenge former humanitarian entrants in Tasmania.  They are the capacity to secure meaningful, sustained employment.  There are organisations like OneCare at Glenorchy, which has a specific policy of hiring former humanitarian entrants because they make fantastic, dedicated employees and they work really hard. 

There are specific concerns around access to affordable housing and that is why the work of the Human Services minister in seeking to increase the supply of affordable housing is so important because a house is the foundation for all manner of success in life - in being able to access health service in an equitable way, to understand the system, and to be able to send their kids to a good school. 

Madam Speaker, I know you would agree with this and probably every member who attends the end of year assemblies - don't those kids shine?  The children and the young people who come here from countries like Ethiopia, Sudan and Bhutan make an amazing contribution to their school communities and to education in Tasmania.  Watching these kids walk away with the dux awards, watching the young brother and sister from Burma sing a song in a school band is a really special thing.

I acknowledge that a meeting happened today which I could not attend because I was at the greyhound inquiry meeting but let us make sure we stick with the original purpose of the Multicultural Friends of Parliament which is to listen to our friends in the migrant communities.  Through listening to them we will provide the opportunities they and their families need to succeed in Tasmania.