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Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Page: 3699

Ms VAMVAKINOU (9:36 AM) —I rise today to speak about an issue that has deeply distressed members of the Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean communities in my electorate of Calwell. I refer to the recent senseless and violent attack, on 31 October, on Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad’s Karada district, which, members might remember, resulted in the killing of 58 innocent people and the injuring of 60 others.

Members of my community still have family in Iraq, and they themselves have come here under the Refugee and Humanitarian Program. They are grateful for the opportunity that has been given to them to live in a stable and peaceful country such as Australia, and they are indeed making a great contribution in their new homeland. But it is also their great wish that the people they have left behind, many of whom are family members, be able to look to a more stable and less violent future.

The Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean communities in Calwell continue to advocate for the protection of the Christian minority in particular, and look to the Australian government to do its utmost to assist in securing that protection. This latest incident is one of many. It is an attack not only on those who lost their lives in this senseless murder or on those left maimed and wounded but on Iraq as a whole—on the people of Iraq. Crimes such as this cannot be attributed to one community or one religion. They are an overall attack on Iraq’s people and on their way of life and future prospects. So I join with the Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean communities, who on Friday, 12 November staged a public protest on the steps of the Victorian parliament. I join with them in their strong condemnation of these senseless murders, and I encourage other members of this House to participate in that condemnation.

On another matter, I want to congratulate the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia. Next Tuesday, 30 November, they are holding a press conference in Sydney at which they will launch their statement on multiculturalism, which is part of a submission that they are putting to government. I congratulate them on this initiative and look forward to working with them in progressing the aim of the statement, titled Reclaiming multiculturalism.

Finally, I seek leave to table 2,947 signatures to a petition which has already been presented and cleared by the Petitions Committee. It is a petition regarding the inclusion of the Modern Greek language in the national curriculum. This latest instalment of petitions takes the number of signatures already collected and submitted to this parliament to the sum total of 25,052.

Leave granted.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of Certain citizens of Australia including representatives of community, educational, political organisations, institutions and establishments across the country

draws to the attention of the House: The matter of the importance of including the Modern Greek language in the National Schools Curriculum as a language of cultural, community, historical and economic importance to Australia and the Australian people.

We therefore ask the House to: Ensure that the Modern Greek language is included in the National Schools Curriculum currently being developed by the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority.

from 2,947 citizens

Petition received.