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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12903

Mr MURPHY (10:44 PM) —It is Xmas time again—that jingle `Ho, ho, ho' and consumerism, that period of political correctness. I say Xmas for that is what Christmas has become. I refer to an article in the Sun-Herald of last Sunday week entitled `Away from the manger: Mary, Joseph and Jesus' by Candace Sutton. The article states:

Baby Jesus is disappearing from Christmas pageants in Australian kindergartens as political correctness sweeps Christianity off the seasonal agenda.

. . . . . . . . .

One of Sydney's largest kindergarten groups, KU Children's Services, has issued a circular, written by a "cross-cultural consultant", advising its pre-school centres to acknowledge diversity in children's races and religion and that celebrating Christmas "may, in fact, be offensive".

Multiculturalism means the active and positive tolerance amongst races, cultures and religions and their observances. It does not mean erasure of ancient cultural traditions. I will stand up in this House for anyone's right to practise their faith. I support strongly multiculturalism which means the positive adoption of universalism, which is the cornerstone of human rights. Human rights include freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of religious observance. On the strength of the Sun-Herald newspaper article, KU Children's Services through its `crosscultural consultant' has seriously violated the very foundations of human rights, the spirit of multiculturalism and the philosophy of universalism.

Christmas to Christians is the second most important feast day on the religious calendar, second only to Easter—the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The feast is about the birth of Jesus Christ, who is regarded by Christians as the Saviour of the world and the Son of God. What will be next? Will we abolish Easter holidays and Easter observances because it is politically incorrect and offends other people? That is the logical conclusion to such reasoning as that portrayed by the KU kindergarten group. It is also totally consistent, according to this `politically correct' philosophy, to deny, say, fasting at Ramadan or deny basic rights which are part and parcel of the universalist, human rights which allow different religions to exist.

This version of `political correctness' is anathema to reason. It is anathema to Australian pluralism and cultural tolerance. It makes martyrs of the very essence of Christianity, still the widely held belief system of the vast majority of Australians. Multiculturalism does not mean no religion. It does not mean, as is depicted in the Sun-Herald article, `At Lakemba Children's Centre, where Muslim and Chinese families mix with Anglo-Saxon children, the December party will be Santa with a festival air.' Christmas's primary focus is not St Nicholas; it is about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The spiritual significance of Jesus's birth is of profound significance to not only Christians but the whole world. The birth of Jesus Christ is the very reason why we are shortly to celebrate the year 2000 at all. We think of the year 2000 in terms of the Olympics, in terms of the Y2K bug and about our com puters going bust. But the reality of the year 2000 is that it will be a worldwide celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. For KU Children's Services to eradicate this fact totally from their festive season celebrations is a serious slight and error on the part of their reasoning. It offends the spirit of multiculturalism. It offends the vast majority of Australians of all persuasions. It culturally sets a standard that says, `Any action which offends another must be eradicated.'

Multiculturalism means the positive practice of one's religion set within the parameters of universally accepted standards of tolerance. The KU kindergarten circular is culturally intolerant. It positively discriminates against the cultural sensitivities of Christianity and therefore offends every other religion for the same reason. If we universally apply this standard to other religions we will simply resort to a positive discrimination of cultural and religious observances elsewhere.

This article is political correctness gone mad. I am aware of what absolutism means in other countries. There are many countries which have absolutist regimes—regimes which positively discriminate against other people's faiths, expressions of their will, and denial of basic human rights. We saw this recently in East Timor. It is not a `long bow to draw' when there is similarity in the philosophy being exercised here. We as a country that prides itself on our tolerance, on our cultural acceptance, cannot allow ourselves to positively discriminate against any religion. We accept that a philosophy, religion, creed or race should be free to perform and observe their spiritual religious observances.

Christmas is not Xmas. Christmas for Christians is about the birth of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of the world. That is the faith and belief of all Christians who universally believe at least this revelation. We approach the year 2000. It is Jesus Christ's 2000th birthday, and I urge this parliament to allow all Australians to be free to celebrate it.