Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

National Day of Unity

Location: Parliament House, Canberra

E & OE

Thank you very much. It is my great pleasure to be here.

Can I acknowledge my many parliamentary colleagues and faith leaders. Thank you all for joining us today symbolically here, at the place of democracy, our national parliament. That says a statement in itself.

When my parents came to this country in the 1950s they came here to build a better life for themselves and for their children. They came here for the freedoms that this country gives.

They came here because it is a well ordered country.

That spirit of parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, those values and beliefs that we all adhere to, unite us as one of the most culturally diverse and yet socially cohesive nations of earth.

Now more than ever, we need to draw on the reserves of good-will, of respect that is so evident in our community when we are faced with challenging times. But we will meet these challenges if we meet them together.

Can I particularly say on behalf of the Australian Government and my own Department of Social Services, we are very proud to support the efforts of the LMA and the National Day of Unity, in particular Open Mosque Day.

Last year I had the benefit of going up to the mosque at Logan and as I sat there, there were four ladies clearly of Anglo-Saxon background. I asked them, “Ladies, why have you come today?” They said, “We have come to hear and we have come to learn.”

Those ladies sat there for the two hours that I was there and as I left I said, “Aare you glad you came?” They said, “Yes we are because we learnt so much today.”

I would encourage those on Open Mosque Day, to go out and join with fellow Australians and to really walk the walk of unity.

Thank you.