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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 3868

Dr THEOPHANOUS —Can the Prime Minister inform the House of the Government's attitude to multiculturalism and, in particular, what new initiatives the Government has adopted to promote multiculturalism?

Mr HAWKE —I thank the honourable member for his question on this very important matter. Of course, it is well known that no other member in this place has a more consistent and committed interest in this subject. I am very proud to be able to stand in this House and repeat that this Government has a strong and totally demonstrated commitment to a multicultural Australia. We are unequivocally committed to enhancing multicultural values in this country. This has been demonstrated no better than by our recent decision to establish the Office of Multicultural Affairs within my portfolio and under my ministerial responsibility. The Office, which will have both a research and an advisory function, will ensure that Mr Hurford, the Minister who will assist me in this area--

Mr Howard —A great vote of confidence in the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs!

Mr HAWKE —And the Government and I will be kept properly informed and advised on matters of concern and importance to our ethnic communities. Associated with that Office of Multicultural Affairs within my portfolio will be an advisory council which will provide an important link between the Office and Australia's ethnic community. It will ensure that ethnic communities around Australia will have a more active and more effective input into the development of multicultural policies and programs. It is the Government's belief that the Office of Multicultural Affairs will be not only more effective than existing structures but also better placed to ensure the co-ordination and representation of ethnic and multicultural interests throughout government. The creation of this Office represents a clear step forward for multiculturalism. It is a step which the Government is proud to have been able to introduce.

That is the complete answer to the question put to me by the honourable member for Calwell; but may I add, Madam Speaker, in response to some snide interjection that I heard from the other side that it is appropriate that I should say that this decision to establish the Office in this way in no sense represents any lack of confidence on my part. Indeed, the decision represents a point of view and a decision arrived at after mutual consultation between the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and me. I have total confidence in him.