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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6467

Ms OWENS (6:12 PM) —I live in an extremely diverse electorate, as everyone would be aware, with an incredibly vibrant community. Large numbers of my electorate came to Australia as refugees. We have a very large Vietnamese population, many Chinese, quite a few hundred who were allowed to stay following Tiananmen Square, Cambodians who were here under the Colombo Plan and many Afghans. There is a little Shia mosque to the south of my electorate, a Sunni mosque to the north and a large Hazara population hanging around somewhere in the middle.

Mr Neumann —Different from Blair.

Ms OWENS —Very different from Blair, but a delightful place to live. Many people in my electorate know the stories of refugees because they know their own story. When they talk to me, they look to Australia as a country that should have a generous, well-managed system for settling refugees, but there is concern at the growing number of people arriving by boat. They recognise, as I do, that there is growth around the world in the number of people seeking asylum, that there were 42 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of last year and that Australia is not alone in having to face an increase in people-smuggling. They share my concern at the number of people who are prepared to exploit the desperation of others for their own ends and to put people’s lives at risk in order to make themselves some money. I know the government has taken many actions to further strengthen our border protection but I would like to hear it from the minister for my electors in Parramatta, who are very concerned about this issue.