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Monday, 18 February 2008
Page: 508


Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:00 PM) —Mr Speaker, on indulgence, I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of the government and the parliament to recognise the event which occurred today in the Great Hall. This was the official welcoming to the parliament of the cross and icon which are the symbols of World Youth Day. The Leader of the Opposition and I attended in the company of Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Canberra and Bishop Anthony Fisher, together with Catholic schoolchildren from across Canberra and the wider region.

It was an important occasion to symbolise on behalf of both sides of Australian politics the extent to which we and this parliament support this important celebration of the Catholic faith later this year in Sydney. World Youth Day will be a major event, bringing to Australia tens of thousands—probably hundreds of thousands—of pilgrims from around the world. It will also be accompanied by a visit to Australia, the first, by Pope Benedict, the Holy Father. Both the Leader of the Opposition and I have already indicated publicly how much a welcome guest the Holy Father will be when he visits Australia and how important an event World Youth Day will be not just for the Catholic faith in this country but for the wider Christian community.

I conclude by saying that those measures commendably promised in support of World Youth Day by the previous government of Australia have been embraced by us as the next government of Australia to make sure that this event is as successful as possible and important for the community of faith in Australia.