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Signage must be for all Australians.

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Gary Hardgrave MP Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

Media Release H17/2003 - 12 February 2003

Signage Must Be For All Australians

The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, has welcomed a move by some Sydney councils to outlaw foreign language signs on Sydney shopfronts without an English translation.

'English is the national language of Australia,' he said. 'The Government provides 510 hours of English language classes to eligible migrants through the $100m Adult Migrant English Program, and we encourage all Australians to read and speak the national tongue.'

Mr Hardgrave welcomed the policy released for public comment by Auburn Council, which has a large migrant population, to ban foreign languages on signs unless they are accompanied by an English translation. Hurstville City Council will launch a similar draft policy next month.

Mr Hardgrave said that comments by the NSW Government spokesman Stepan Kerkyasharian show that he is out of touch.

'Mr Kerkyasharian seems to have forgotten an overriding commitment to Australia is paramount,' he said. 'The use of languages other than English help strengthen our society's structure, but the key is English language use.'

'Multiculturalism is about feeling free to practise and share one's culture within an overriding commitment to Australia and its people.'

'It is not about a nation of separate communities. It is about loyalty to Australia, its language, its people and its laws.

'Surely it makes good business sense to have signage that appeals to a broader potential market and I welcome the fact that the Auburn Chamber of Commerce is right behind the council on this.'

12 February 2003

Media contact: Amanda Lynch 0419 123 862