Once again reality out-satirises satire:
Gary Hardgrave MP
Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs
Media Release H27/2003 - 18 March 2003
Domestic Security Begins with National Unity
The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Gary Hardgrave says that there has never been a more important time to promote unity and harmony within Australia.
'National security begins with domestic harmony,' Mr Hardgrave said.
'With the 5th Harmony Day coming up on Friday, I encourage all Australians to recommit to respect, goodwill and understanding among our community and say "no" to racism.
'Australians of Middle Eastern and Muslim background may have mixed feelings about events unfolding overseas and concern for the safety and welfare of family members. I urge all Australians to be understanding and offer the hand of friendship to their fellow residents, no matter what their background. It is time especially to support Muslim and Middle Eastern members of our local communities.'
As the Prime Minister said in his speech of 4 February, 2003:
'Australia is home to several hundred thousand people of Middle Eastern background. We welcomed them, some of them refugees from Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, and we appreciate their contribution to our nation. Many of them could be torn between seeing Saddam brought to account and the possible dangers facing their families back in Iraq. During this time, they will need our compassion and our support. All Australians should ensure that this is offered.'
Mr Hardgrave said he believed that the majority of Australians felt sickened by attacks on mosques and synagogues in the days following September 11 and that the public did not want conflict inside our borders.
'Australia is a vibrant democracy - we each are entitled to our views and should express them through debate not by unlawful means involving vilification, violence or vandalism.
'The Muslim community over this challenging period has done much to engage the respect and understanding of the wider community and has embraced and defended the common values and freedoms of all Australians.'
Mr Hardgrave said that this Harmony Day had grown to a record 474 community events (304 last year) involving 2,700 community organisations around Australia. Last week's launch of the first national dialogue of Muslims, Jews and Christians in Sydney, and upcoming events such as the AFL Carlton-Swans Harmony Match, Drums of the World event in Melbourne, and local community events, including mosque open days, show Australians do work well at getting to know each other.
'What is most encouraging is the increasing interest by schools and young people in Harmony Day with an increase in the product orders this year to 2,696 around half of these are from schools around the country. Australians are pulling together and do respect the cultural diversity in our community.'
Mr Hardgrave encouraged all Australians to show their commitment to each other by wearing something orange on Friday.
I'll be wearing purple.