Australia: NSW Liberal leader forced to alter address

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Jan 27 14:24:13 UTC 2007

Lib forced to alter address

David King 27jan07

NSW Liberal leader Peter Debnam has come under fire for attempting to use
an Australia Day address to deliver a politically charged speech on
multiculturalism. He was forced to alter the address, given at a
citizenship ceremony in Sutherland in southern Sydney, because it breached
federal government guidelines by announcing his new multiculturalism
policy. The tenor of the speech and the planned policy announcement
prompted Sutherland's Liberal Mayor David Redmond to threaten to cancel
the talk.  Sutherland Shire covers the suburb of Cronulla, the scene of
the December 2005 race riot.

But after reviewing Department of Immigration guidelines, Mr Debnam
removed references to his "practical multiculturalism" policy. A
centrepiece of the policy is a plan to change the name of the program
"English as a Second Language" to "Teaching English as First Language".
Labor Premier Morris Iemma said Mr Debnam's attempt to launch policy on
Australia Day showed he was out of touch with mainstream Australia.
"Australia Day is a day of celebrating all the things that unite us, not
focusing on division and disunity," Mr Iemma said. "It's supposed to be a
public holiday from the argy bargy of politics.

"We leave that at home and come together to enjoy a day of celebration -
not get into divisive politics." In his speech, which was applauded as he
delivered it, Mr Debnam attacked political correctness, which he said had
"hijacked and marginalised multiculturalism in Australia". The practical
multiculturalism policy also includes an Australian Values and Civics test
for Year 6 students.,20867,21124955-2702,00.html


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