House debates

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Statements by Members

Social Cohesion

1:38 pm

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

The great strength of Australia has been and remains the positive contribution made by each of the groups which comprise it. Whilst our personal narratives may be unique, our destiny is shared. We are all bound by the hope of a prosperous future and a set of ideals that speak to our egalitarian spirit—a belief that we must live free from fear in order to actively contribute to our nation. These values not only bind us but also guide us and inspire us. When we respect and learn from one another we are more secure. When we welcome a new Australian and encourage their desire to embrace our national values and add their culture to our wonderful country we are all renewed.

Today, we as a nation are faced with a moment of anxiety and friction and it is imperative that we should remind ourselves of these intrinsic values. A sense of inclusion must rally against all forms of bigotry, and it must be done vocally and unequivocally. Indeed, we must combat narrow-mindedness with words of education and reason. For bigoted attitudes and behaviour to change, we must be prepared to stand up and speak out. This takes leadership and it should come from every member of this place.

This has been exhibited recently where Muslims worldwide, including here in Australia, have utilised social media to denounce the violent actions of extremists in their own words through the 'Not in My Name' campaign. This campaign reminds us all that the tenets of Islam are not based upon prejudice, intolerance or violence, but on peace, compassion and understanding. We, as a community, must actively promote this message and remember that we are all stronger united than divided. (Time expired)