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Wednesday, 29 March 2006
Page: 156

Mr GARRETT (9:30 AM) —I rise to commend to the House the activities that took place in Kingsford Smith around Harmony Day during the past week. Harmony Day, which was celebrated on 21 March this year, is an opportunity for Australians to celebrate our cultural diversity and multiculturalism, to recommit to our common values of respect and goodwill and, most importantly, to say no to racism.

Harmony Day, as members would know, coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and it calls on the world’s people to work particularly hard at eliminating all forms of racial discrimination. Harmony Day emerged from the terrible events of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa in 1960. I am extremely pleased that the Australian government has taken Harmony Day on board and has worked reasonably assiduously to ensure that Harmony Day is enjoyed, experienced and promoted throughout the Australian community.

It is certainly true that we have a proud history of accepting people from many races and creeds into this country. There is occasionally some unfocused and negative comment concerning multiculturalism and the level of tolerance that exists in the community. But I can assure the House that the events that took place in Kingsford Smith in particular, the activities by students and staff at Randwick Girls High School on 24 March, where everyone gathered to celebrate the school’s richness and diversity, were a very tangible rebuttal to those who are uncertain of how diverse communities in Australia can exist in harmony.

The Randwick Girls High School Harmony Day celebration featured a dazzling parade of nations where girls from more than 60 nationalities that were present at the school presented themselves in national dress. There was outstanding dance, an international feast and a range of other activities. I want to commend the school for the display of harmony that it presented on that day. The school staff were ably led by principal Heather Emerson and the students put a great deal of work into the day.

Additionally, I was able to attend a function on 25 March at Randwick Town Hall, organised by the Indonesian Community Council of New South Wales, featuring, amongst other guests, the Indonesian Consul General, Mr Wardana. The Indonesian community, presenting its culture and its dance, along with members of the local council and people from around Sydney and New South Wales, gathered together in an expression of harmony, and in a way which, given the recent events that we have witnessed in terms of international affairs with the West Papuan people coming into Australia, showed the capacity we have, where there are occasional differences between the two countries, to recognise that ours is an ongoing relationship that we will continue to build. On days such as Harmony Day there is a great opportunity to make note of the levels of racism that should not be— (Time expired)