The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL
(Minister for Roads, and Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport) [12.42 a.m.]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX
It is my privilege to introduce the World Youth Day Bill. The World Youth Day Bill will establish a statutory corporation, the World Youth Day Co-ordination Authority, to plan, co-ordinate and provide for government services for World Youth Day 2008. World Youth Day is a six-day celebration aimed at young people aged from 16 to 35 years from all around the world. Initiated by His Holiness Pope John Paul 11 in 1984, it has become the largest single international mobilisation of young people in the world.
Last year Sydney proudly won the right to host World Youth Day 2008, which will be held from 14 to 20 July. The high-level delegation that secured this event was led by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, with the support of the New South Wales Government. World Youth Day 2008 is a wonderful opportunity for Sydney to showcase itself again to the world. It demonstrates our ability to continue to attract and host large-scale international events. Such events focus international attention on Sydney and New South Wales, and they show us at our best. They help to underscore Sydney's reputation as a world-class international city-a city whose people are highly skilled and hardworking, with an easygoing "can do" attitude and friendly manner. Previous World Youth Day host cities have included Rome, Paris, Buenos Aires, Manila, Toronto and Cologne.
It is anticipated that around 500,000 people will participate in World Youth Day 2008 events, including an expected 100,000 from overseas. The culmination of the event will be a final papal mass to be delivered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse on 29 July 2008. I can also advise the House that a chief executive officer for the authority has been selected. The current Director of Transport Operations at the New South Wales Ministry of Transport, Mr Roy Wakelin-King, will take on the role. Mr Wakelin-King will bring considerable experience to the position following a career as a commissioned officer in the Australian Army and detailed know how from his time with the Olympic Roads and Transport Authority.
World Youth Day 2008 is bigger than the Rugby World Cup in terms of expected visitors. It is bigger than the Olympics, and it will take a similar level of co-ordination and services to make it happen. The success of World Youth Day, as with all major events of this nature, lies in proper planning. Planning is also key to ensuring public safety and security, as well as to ensuring that the everyday functioning of our city continues. The successful staging of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games demonstrated the need for overall planning and co-ordination at a strategic level as well as clear, centralised lines of reporting. In 2000 this role was performed successfully by the Olympic Co-ordination Authority and the Olympic Roads and Transport Authority. Both these agencies worked co-operatively with the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and the international and Australian Olympic committees to deliver "the best Games ever".
It is proposed to adopt the Olympic model for the planning and co-ordination of New South Wales Government services for World Youth Day 2008. In particular, the bill will establish a new special purpose authority dedicated solely to the function of planning, co-ordinating and providing for government services for World Youth Day 2008. Given its special-purpose role, the authority will have a limited life. The bill includes provision for winding up the authority after World Youth Day, and the legislation will expire automatically on 31 December 2008.
The bill establishes an advisory board for the authority, to be chaired by the Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport, and Minister for Police, John Watkins, and including representatives—at chief executive officer level—from relevant government agencies. The board will also include a representative from the church to facilitate continued co-operation and co-ordination between the government agencies and the church in staging the actual events. Existing government agencies will have the expertise, staff and other resources and facilities to provide the services necessary for World Youth Day. The authority's role will be primarily to provide the high-level planning and co-ordination function to support the provision of those services. Government agencies will be required to co-operate with the authority, which will develop and implement strategies, plans and policies for the World Youth Day period.
Importantly, nothing in the legislation will affect the lawful exercise of powers by police, and the authority will not have any powers of direction in respect of police officers and police resources. NSW Police will, of course, be represented on the authority and will play a central role in planning for World Youth Day. The bill will confer on the authority powers to facilitate the conduct of World Youth Day events. These powers are similar to, but not as extensive as, those that were in place during the Olympics. They include provisions to allow for the establishment of special-purpose traffic lanes, to enable the closure of roads and to allow for fast-tracked approval for events at prescribed World Youth Day venues. This bill draws on the models that were used with spectacular success during the Olympics to ensure that government services for World Youth Day will also be delivered effectively and efficiently. While responsibility for staging World Youth Day rests ultimately with the church, proper co-ordination and planning by relevant government agencies will be imperative for its success.
I commend the bill to the House.
[12.43 a.m.]: It is my great pleasure to lead for the Opposition on the World Youth Day Bill, which establishes the World Youth Day Co-ordination Authority as a statutory corporation to plan, co-ordinate and provide for integrated government services for World Youth Day 2008. World Youth Day is a gathering of Catholic young people aged between 16 and 35 years, initiated by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1984. Its objective is to consolidate the youth ministry of the Catholic Church by offering new encouragement for commitment to foster ever-greater involvement and participation. World Youth Day is held every three years at different locations and has become the largest single international mobilisation of young people in the world.
In 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI named Sydney as the host city for World Youth Day 2008. This celebration of youth will be held from 14 to 20 July 2008 and will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase our nation to the youth of the world. The culmination of World Youth Day will be a papal mass by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse on 29 July 2008. The theme of the papal mass has been taken from the Book of Acts, chapter 1 verse 8, which reads:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses.
This theme is most appropriate, given the words spoken in 1606 by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, a Portuguese navigator who was the first recorded European to actually lay claim to Australia. He gave our continent the name "Terra Australis—Australia del Espiritu Santo", or literally, "South Land of the Holy Spirit." Madam President, you may remember the wonderful scenes broadcast on television some months ago of His Eminence Cardinal Pell with the New South Wales Premier, the Hon. Morris Iemma, and the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP, representing the Prime Minister of Australia, dancing jubilantly behind a banner with a rather exuberant bunch of young people, deliriously celebrating Sydney's success in hosting World Youth Day 2008. I am sure we will see many more of these types of scenes during World Youth Day in 2008. Indeed, I recently spoke to a fine young man who attended the 2005 World Youth Day held in Cologne, Germany. Here are a few thoughts from Noel McCoy about this special experience:
It was an amazing coming together of people from all nationalities, races, languages and colours.
The central business district of Cologne was filled daily with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who would sing and dance their countries various folk music. Brazilians, Spanish, Malaysians, young people from all walks of life, lined the streets with thousands of flags from different countries.
The locals were incredibly welcoming. Hundreds of thousands had complete strangers stay in their homes. I stayed with a family with whom I am still a friend. They drove us around, took us to a local festival, cooked meals for us.
On the eve of World Youth Day, a million people slept in a massive camping area called Marienfeld.
I experienced a real sensation of people wanting to do good for the world and for each other. It was a spiritual uplifting for young people and the realisation of the universality of Christianity.
Just picture a million young men and women sleeping peacefully in the fields around Cologne. What a sight it must have been. We certainly have much to look forward to. It is anticipated that more than 500,000 people will participate in World Youth Day 2008 with more than 100,000 expected from overseas. It will be bigger than the Olympics and will require a similar level of co-ordination of services to run successfully. The creation of a statutory corporation to co-ordinate this major event duplicates the successful Olympic model. The World Youth Day Co-ordination Authority will primarily provide high-level planning and co-ordination to support the provision of services by existing government agencies.
Sensibly, the bill includes provisions for winding up the authority after World Youth Day, and the legislation will automatically expire on 31 December 2008. I note that the Australian Government is supporting World Youth Day by providing funding of $20 million to the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and by bearing other costs such as visa facilitation and security. The Australian Government will also be responsible for the much-anticipated visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Finally, I congratulate His Eminence Cardinal Pell on his vision and leadership in bringing World Youth Day to Sydney in 2008. It promises to be a wonderful celebration of the youth of the world as well as the strength, faith and confidence they bring to the communities they represent. The Opposition supports the bill.
The Hon. DAVID CLARKE
[12.48 a.m.]: World Youth Day to be hosted by Sydney in July 2008 will be one of the most important and publicised events ever to be held in our nation, and the World Youth Day Bill will help it to be so. World Youth Day will be an event of great significance for Australia, of great significance for Sydney, Australia's oldest and largest city, and of great significance to the Catholic Church in Australia and its five million and more adherents in this country, to the Catholic church internationally, and to its 1.3 billion members worldwide.
It will be of particular significance for the Catholic youth of Australia and the scores of thousands of young people who will come from all over the world to attend. On a personal basis, it is of deep significance to my wife and me, who as Catholics accept the church's teachings in faith and morals as determined by the magisterium of the church and who are moved and inspired by its holiness and goodness and the sanctifying grace that its teachings bring.
World Youth Day was first initiated by the late Pope John Paul II in 1986 for young people aged 16 to 35. Whilst it is an event that is celebrated at a local level around the world on an annual basis, every two to three years it is held as an international event in a different host city for a period of six days. A great deal of planning and energy went into efforts to have Sydney accepted as the next venue. Beginning with a feasibility study initiated by the Archdiocese of Sydney in 2003, and with the support of the State and Federal governments, the final proposal was submitted to the Vatican in June 2005. It culminated in Pope Benedict XVI announcing on 21 August 2005 before 1.2 million people in Cologne, Germany, that the next World Youth Day would be held in Sydney.
This proposal, and its acceptance, came about as a result of a great deal of work from a great number of people: from the church, from civic leaders, from government leaders, and from the youth of the church. I have little doubt that a major factor was the Archbishop of Sydney, His Eminence Cardinal George Pell. I believe that his energy, dedication and leadership helped Sydney win this great event. And what a great event it will be, with 500,000 expected to attend, including 125,000 from overseas. The organising committee anticipates that 8,000 volunteers will be assisting and some 2,000 clergy will be participating. The event will attract enormous international media coverage, with up to 5,000 media personnel anticipated to attend. It is expected to pump over $100 million into the New South Wales economy.
Many thousands of Sydneysiders will be offering their homes to accommodate visitors, including many from non-catholic denominations. Schools and parish halls will also be utilised for this purpose. And what sort of Catholic church will visitors find when they come to Australia? Well, they will find a church that is focused, energised and growing. They will find a church with a rich fabric of diversity but united in faith, purpose and action. They will find a church that has its roots in early settlers from Ireland, England and Scotland, and later waves from the 1950s and 1960s emanating from Italy, Malta and Eastern Europe. But there will also be new threads that have been woven into the fabric, such as the Melkite Catholics led by Archbishop Dawich, who recently celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of their cathedral at Darlington, or the Chaldean Catholics, those who speak Aramaic, the language of Christ himself, and who only days ago installed their first-ever Archbishop here in Australia. Archbishop Kassab recently arrived from Iraq to take up leadership of a just-created new diocese of Australia and New Zealand to cater for growing numbers fleeing from the escalating persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
Whether it is the Vietnamese Catholics who are found in great numbers in Cabramatta, Fairfield and Bringelly or the Maronites who first started arriving several generations ago and who now have many parishes, schools and monasteries, a great diversity will be found but all will be joined in one common faith. And when those pilgrims come to Sydney to attend World Youth Day in July 2008 they will find a church committed to social justice, operating countless institutions and programs to assist those who need assistance, and a church committed to quality in education exemplified by a rapidly growing church school system and institutions of higher learning such as Campion College at Guildford and Notre Dame University at Broadway, in Sydney. World Youth Day to be held here in Sydney in July 2008 will be a great occasion and an historic and uplifting event. The World Youth Day Bill will contribute substantially to the success of the event. It will help co-ordinate policies, strategies and plans to make that event a reality. It is a bill that I hope will be passed by this Chamber.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY
[12.54 a.m.]: It is with great pleasure that I speak to the World Youth Day Bill. The bill will establish a statutory corporation, the World Youth Day Co-ordination Authority, to plan, co-ordinate and provide for government services for World Youth Day 2008. World Youth Day is a six-day celebration aimed at young people aged from 16 to 35 years from all around the world. Initiated by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1984, it has become the largest single international mobilisation of young people in the world.
The high-level delegation that secured this event was led by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, with the support of the New South Wales Government. World Youth Day 2008 is a wonderful opportunity for Sydney to again showcase itself to the world. It demonstrates our ability to continue to attract and host large-scale international events. Such events focus international attention on Sydney and New South Wales. And they show us at our best. They help to underscore Sydney's reputation as a world-class international city, a city whose people are highly skilled and hardworking, with an easy-going "can do" attitude and friendly manner. Previous World Youth Day host cities have included Rome, Paris, Buenos Aires, Manila, Toronto and Cologne.
It is anticipated that around 500,000 people will participate in World Youth Day 2008 events, including an expected 100,000 people from overseas. The culmination of the event will be a final papal mass to be delivered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse on 29 July 2008. I can also advise the House that a chief executive officer for the authority has been selected. The current Director of Transport Operations at the New South Wales Ministry of Transport, Mr Roy Wakelin-King, will take on the role. Mr Wakelin-King will bring considerable experience to the position, following a career as a commissioned officer in the Australian Army and detailed know-how from his time with the Olympic Roads and Transport Authority.
World Youth Day 2008 is bigger than the Rugby World Cup in terms of expected visitors. Indeed, it is bigger than the Olympics, and it will take a similar level of co-ordination and services to make it happen. The success of World Youth Day, as with all major events of this nature, lies in proper planning. Planning is also key to ensuring public safety and security, as well as ensuring that the everyday functioning of our city continues. The successful staging of the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games demonstrated the need for overall planning and co-ordination at a strategic level, as well as clear, centralised lines of reporting. In 2000 this role was performed successfully by the Olympic Co-ordination Authority and the Olympic Roads and Transport Authority. Both these agencies worked co-operatively with the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and the International and Australian Olympic Committees to deliver "the best Games ever".
It is proposed to adopt the Olympic model for the planning and co-ordination of New South Wales Government services for World Youth Day 2008. In particular, the bill will establish a new special-purpose authority solely dedicated to the function of planning, co-ordinating and providing for government services for World Youth Day 2008. Given its special-purpose role, the authority will have a limited life. The bill itself includes provision for the winding up of the authority after World Youth Day, and the legislation will automatically expire on 31 December 2008. The bill establishes an advisory board for the authority, to be chaired by Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Transport John Watkins. The board will include representatives at chief executive officer level from relevant government agencies. The board will also include a representative from the church, to facilitate continued co-operation and co-ordination between the government agencies and the church in staging the events.
Existing government agencies will have the expertise, staff, and other resources and facilities to provide the services necessary for World Youth Day. The authority's role will be primarily to provide the high-level planning and co-ordination function to support the provision of those services. Government agencies will be required to co-operate with the authority, which will develop and implement strategies, plans and policies for the World Youth Day period. Importantly, nothing in the legislation will affect the lawful exercise of powers by police, and the authority will not have any powers of direction in respect of police officers and police resources. New South Wales Police will, of course, be represented on the authority and will play a central role in planning for World Youth Day.
The bill will confer on the authority powers to facilitate the conduct of World Youth Day events. These powers are similar to, but not as extensive as, those that were in place during the Olympics. They include provisions to allow for the establishment of special-purpose traffic lanes to enable the closure of roads and fast-tracked approval for events at prescribed World Youth Day venues. The bill draws on the models that were used with spectacular success during the Olympics, to ensure that government services for World Youth Day will also be delivered effectively and efficiently. While responsibility for staging World Youth Day ultimately rests with the church, proper co-ordination and planning by relevant government agencies will be imperative for its success. I commend the bill to the House.
The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO
[12.59 a.m.]: I have been asked by the Minister who introduced the bill in this Chamber to speak to it. The organisational arrangements being put in place for World Youth Day demonstrate that the New South Wales Government has co-operated very successfully with the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Sydney to attract this event. I particularly place on record the very important role that the outgoing Minister for Tourism and Sport and Recreation, the Hon. Sandra Nori, played in helping the Government put forward a case and secure this important event for Sydney. It was an important contribution by the Hon. Sandra Nori to the people of New South Wales, and particularly the Roman Catholic community of this State, to have such an important event in New South Wales.
This Government has demonstrated its ability to manage large events such as the Olympics. I am very confident that the World Youth Day organisation will prove to be just as successful. I am sure the event itself will be every bit as successful and that there will be future ongoing tourism benefits for the people of New South Wales, because once these young Roman Catholics come here for World Youth Day and find out what a great place Australia is, they will return again, bringing their family and friends. I suggest they will see that this is a place to visit, not just on a special occasion but a regular place for them to visit. I commend the bill to the House.
Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE
[1.01 a.m.]: I place on record the enthusiastic support of the Christian Democratic Party for the World Youth Day Bill 2006, which will establish the World Youth Day Co-ordination Authority as a statutory corporation to plan, co-ordinate and provide for integrated government services for World Youth Day 2008. This is based on the model used for the Olympic Games in 2000, which were so successful. I am sure World Youth Day will be even more successful. We pray for God's richest blessing upon World Youth Day to bless the youth of Australia and young people from all round the world who will visit us to share in that event.
The Hon. Dr ARTHUR CHESTERFIELD-EVANS
[1.02 a.m.]: I recognise this bill as one that sets up an authority to co-ordinate World Youth Day and implement quite a number of traffic changes. I understand that the land uses and changes associated with the event will cost about $20 million. I understand also, from the Government, that this event is expected to bring in revenue of $146 million, giving us a cool profit of $126 million. Given our obsession with Mammon, this has to be a wonderful thing.
I am, however, concerned that this is not just World Youth Day but is effectively a Catholic day. It is a day for Catholic youth and recruitment and the championing of Catholic youth. It is in effect a propaganda exercise by the Catholic church. Let us be really clear about what this is. When I hear World Youth Day I am reminded of the holy Roman Empire, a concept that has existed from about 600 AD and encompasses the whole of Western Europe in effect as the empire of the Pope—until the Reformation, when the Brits got themselves a separate church so that Henry could divorce his wife. Be that as it may, the Pope asked countries to bid for World Youth Day—which really means Catholic Youth Day. The fact that Catholic or Roman Catholic is not mentioned suggests marketing activities of the Catholic church.
As honourable members know, I am very keen on the separation of church and state. Such separation is extremely important, and we should have it in Australia. I think the Parliament of New South Wales needs to change the New South Wales Constitution Act 1902 with the object of the Parliament of New South Wales recognising, respecting and guaranteeing freedom of conscience and of religion equally to all individuals; recognising, respecting and guaranteeing the equal freedom of every person to change or relinquish his or her religious beliefs; recognising, respecting and guaranteeing every individual's right to profess, within the framework of respect of the law, the religious belief of his or her preference; and recognising, respecting and guaranteeing every individual's right not to have any religion. We should declare that New South Wales is a secular, democratic State with a separation between temporal government authorities and institutions, and religious authorities and institutions.
I think we need to define what a religion is. Religion means a personal commitment to a supernatural or similar entity, expressed within a community of others, realised through observances, practices and rituals; belief means a commitment to a set of principles and ethics for individual or collective moral action; and secular means government non-involvement in the expressions of religious or anti-religious organisations.
The separation of church and state should be achieved by the State of New South Wales declaring that there is a separation of church, synagogue, mosque, or any religious organisation and the State in New South Wales. Official religious rituals such as prayers and oaths should not be used in Parliament or at public government functions; and all public religious symbols or signs in Parliament or in government buildings and workplaces, with the exception of displays integral to war memorials, museums and similar displays, should be removed. Of course, this would not preclude individuals from displaying personal religious symbols.
There should be no public moneys for the purpose of worship, teaching or observance of religious beliefs. No public money or property should be appropriated, applied, paid or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any religious organisation, or of any priest, preacher, minister, imam or other religious teacher for the purposes of worship, teaching, practice or observance of religious beliefs. This does not prevent public funding to religious organisations to provide services and programs that are non-religious in nature.
The Education Act of 1990 must be amended to include provision for general religious education, which involves learning about religions, the place of religion in society, and the importance of religious beliefs for particular individuals and communities. It is a set curriculum and is taught by teachers. "General religious education" should be changed to "ethics and philosophy". We need to expand the proposed curriculum for ethics and philosophy to include, in addition to religion, discussions about other philosophies and ethics. We need to include the following clause:
While respecting the need for students to learn about the religious and other belief structures or similar traditions of society as a normal part of the State curriculum, no government school will permit the worship, teaching, practice or observance of any religion or include any religious or other belief instruction undertaken by any priest, minister, imam, other religionist or other belief instructor, or person acting as the agent of a religion or belief system, or similar teacher, in government schools at any time.
The New South Wales Education Act 1990 also allows for special religious education by a religious authority, and the authority itself determines the content in the teaching proposal. This provision must be repealed. There must be no public funds for chaplains in State schools. State accountability must be such that services given State funding must be performed without any discrimination based on religion or belief and without a requirement, whether formal or informal, to participate in religious activities.
The Hon. Amanda Fazio:
Point of order: The bill relates to organisational matters concerning World Youth Day. It does not deal with the matters currently being discussed by the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans. I would therefore ask that he be drawn back to speaking to the bill before the House.
The Hon. Dr ARTHUR CHESTERFIELD-EVANS:
To the point of order: The bill of course effectively facilitates an immense propaganda drive for the Catholic church. I am stating guidelines that the State should have in order to clearly separate church and state, a concept that seems to have been muddied almost as a prerequisite of this bill, and as such I believe my remarks are well within the leave and scope of the bill.
The Hon. Tony Kelly:
To the point of order: I think we should allow the Democrats to get their policy on the record.
Order! The Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans is arguing that the bill facilitates money going towards a religious event, and arguments to do with secularism are appropriate. The member may proceed.
The Hon. Dr ARTHUR CHESTERFIELD-EVANS:
As I was saying, we must ensure that State funding for services is undertaken without any discrimination based on religion or belief and without a requirement, whether formal or informal, to participate in religious activities. We must ensure transparency and accountability in reporting to relevant government authorities' activities where State tax benefits accrue. This is the format for which we should be considering subsidies to the church. Let us be very clear about this: This is a subsidy to the Catholic church, which will run, effectively, a huge propaganda exercise extending around the world.
I recognise that the cost of this may be $20 million and the benefit to the State—which, admittedly, will not be in terms of State revenue—will be $146 million. Those costings may be reasonable but, given the huge propaganda filip at a world level that Catholicism will get from this ceremony, we may indeed have a further religious interference in the running of the State that may have an effect on many aspects of decisions we make regarding stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, the teaching of creation science, and other things that are very distressing to people who are of secular belief and who believe that the Government should stick to a more scientific approach. We have to recognise that this is a danger in the subsidising of a Catholic festival. While one can look at this as a valuable aspect from a tourism point of view, we should treat it neutrally in the same way that Mardi Gras is treated neutrally. This is a subsidy for a religious ceremony, and we must recognise it as such.
Ms LEE RHIANNON
[1.12 a.m.]: Imagine 1.2 million young Muslims converging on Sydney for prayer and celebration. And to promote the event a logo is unveiled that combines the Muslim crescent-moon symbol emblazoned on a burning image of the Opera House. Not in your wildest dreams!
The Hon. Rick Colless:
You do so at your own peril, if you do that. You have just outlined your plans.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I acknowledge the interjection. Are you aware that is the image you have just signed off on—
The Hon. Rick Colless:
No, I haven't.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
Yes, you have. If you are supporting this World Youth Day, that is the image you have just signed off on. With the vilification of young men of Middle Eastern appearance almost a daily occurrence, the suggestion of 1.2 million young Muslims converging on Sydney is ridiculous. But just substitute Muslim for Catholic and change the symbol to the cross and this becomes real. The point is you would not have a burning image of the Opera House with the crescent moon on it.
The Hon. Rick Colless:
You are talking through your hat.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I am not talking through my hat. Go to the web site and look at the image of this World Youth Day. It is an image of the burning Opera House with a symbol of the cross on it. I was just making a comparison. When this logo was unveiled in April, Mr Turnbull, the Premier and a number of young people were in attendance. I do not know whether members saw Mr Iemma; he seemed quite embarrassed when asked to comment on the logo. True, it is hard to conclude too much from this—the New South Wales Premier often stumbles his way through interviews—but I certainly felt he was a bit shellshocked by the disturbing images. But, if there was any hesitancy on the part of the Premier it was just momentary.
The Premier is understandably excited by the event, particularly the prospect of millions of visitors coming to Sydney and the hundreds of millions of dollars they will spend in New South Wales. When the last World Youth Day was held in the German town of Cologne in 2005, 1.2 million young Catholics attended the final mass. Again, imagine that number of young Muslims facing Mecca and praying together in Sydney. The headlines, the talkback and the outcry from our mainstream politicians would be extreme. I could imagine many of the people who are sitting on the Opposition benches laughing at the moment would be the first to jump up in this House and move motions condemning such an event if it were ever suggested that 1.2 young Muslims come into this country. The hypocrisy is extreme.
The Hon. Melinda Pavey:
I don't think I would, actually.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I think some of your colleagues would. You can almost hear the pious chatter about incitement to violence and unhealthy outpourings of dangerous emotions. Inevitably, someone would try to make a link between the burning Opera House and 9/11.
The Hon. Tony Kelly:
We must make sure that Johno Johnson, the president of the Catholic Weekly
, gets a copy of this speech.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
Yes, that would be good. We would have a lot to share. I acknowledge religious freedom is a fundamental right. When I heard about this event and went to the web site I reflected back over time. I can remember to a small extent when I was young—
The Hon. John Della Bosca:
They were the good old days, Lee.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I was born in 1951. I can still remember Catholics being called "tykes".
The Hon. John Della Bosca:
You can take the fifties out of the girl but you can't take the girl out of the fifties.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I acknowledge that interjection. We have to get that one on the record. I can remember Catholics being abused and called "tykes". But attitudes have shifted enormously. Look at all the Catholics in this place. In regard to World Youth Day, Catholics could at least have had an across-faith event to involve young people of all faiths and atheists. However, the narrow project they have launched is very disappointing. This comparison with an equivalent hypothetical Muslim event illustrates the bigotry and prejudice that exists in our society. It is clear that 1.2 million young Muslims would not enjoy the same religious freedom as 1.2 million young Catholics. With the ongoing vilification of young men of Middle Eastern appearance by the media and some members of Parliament—and I do not need to remind members of Mr Debnam's reference to locking up 200 Middle Eastern thugs—I have difficulty imagining that a gathering of young Muslims in Sydney would enjoy the same level of religious freedom and government support. We need to remember that Mel Gibson was originally engaged in this project. I have heard there were two proposals for Mel Gibson: one was to direct a mock crucifixion and the other one was the Stations of the Cross down Macquarie Street.
The Hon. John Della Bosca:
You have heard too much corridor gossip, Lee.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
You say "corridor gossip". Do you know where this comes from? Archbishop Pell—your good mate.
The Hon. Amanda Fazio:
Did you have a chat with him?
The Hon. John Della Bosca:
She's been to confession.
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I have not been to confession. St Mary's is close. I have seen Archbishop Pell walking down Macquarie Street. I have obviously read up about this; you can find fascinating things when you read the various Catholic productions around the place. Mel Gibson obviously dropped out of mention when he made his anti-Semitic remarks. It is still not clear whether he is out of the whole game, but he was seriously considered. Over the years I have come into contact with several progressive Catholic organisations, including the impressive Catholics in Coalition for Social Justice and Peace. They are an important, albeit minority, part of the church.
It was worrying to see that the Cologne World Youth Day did not include in its program, or even provide space for, discussion on contentious issues of religion and lifestyle. Catholics for a Free Choice and a few other groups tried to inject balance into the proceedings, but the enormity of the event and the backing of the mainstream Catholic church and those with a different message were drowned out. That is why I go back to my earlier comments that this is not an open event at which a diversity of viewpoints will be put. Everything indicates otherwise. Checking out the web site for WYD 2008 suggests that the same conformity will be pushed onto the young Catholics who flock to Sydney. In calling for support for the Sydney event, companies are given a series of guidelines on behaviour to be avoided. At the top of the list are "promiscuity, contraception, abortion, adultery". They are to be avoided. WYD 2008 will lose an important opportunity to send a message about safe sex practices to its young participants. To their credit, the organisers warn their corporate partners against "payment of unjust wages and unethical work conditions".
The Hon. Amanda Fazio:
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I agree. Who knows how WYD 08 will fare. As it is going to happen here one would have to wish them well, but we should all pause to consider how differently a Muslim WYD 08 would be treated. We still have a long way to go to build a tolerant society.
Mr IAN COHEN
[1.21 a.m.]: I appreciate the words of Ms Lee Rhiannon who led in this debate for the Greens, and I also very much appreciate the points of view put forward by the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans. In listening to the debate I recognise people's rights to have their particular religious convictions, ideas and ideals. However, I have real concerns when I listen to the positions put forward by what might be a majority of people in this House. I was raised in what probably would be considered a minority position in this society, and I have chosen very much to take a minority position with my lifestyle. But it is disconcerting when I hear ridicule in this House, the majority attitude and the power of church in this State and in this House. It worries me a great deal. In fairness, this is something that is pursued by the dominant paradigm of this society and this House. World Youth Day is a massive festival put on by a certain section of the community. It takes away from what I believe should be a true separation of church and state.
I have listened to all the other arguments in this House, and for a short time I want to make a statement in support of what some of the members have said in his House.
Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile:
They are insults against the Catholic church.
Mr IAN COHEN:
They may be insults, but freedom of speech means we have the latitude to disagree. If that is taken as an insult, so be it. But I feel it is important in this House to have the opportunity to respectfully disagree, although there would be members of this House who would seek to stop any such disagreement. This is a Chamber for open discussion. I believe it was inappropriate to fund the church spires for St Mary's Cathedral, which was supported by this House. Similarly I believe—
The Hon. Charlie Lynn:
What did you want up there—a tepee?
Mr IAN COHEN:
Yes. Similarly I believe it is inappropriate that the House supports to the degree it does this particular event. It should be supported as other events in the community would be supported. I ask the Minister in his reply to give details to the House of how much money will go from State Government coffers towards this event.
The Hon. TONY KELLY
(Minister for Justice, Minister for Juvenile Justice, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Lands, and Minister for Rural Affairs) [1.24 a.m.], in reply: I thank all honourable members for their contributions to the debate, particularly those who showed their great support for World Youth Day in 2008, which excludes the last three speakers. I commend the bill to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.