Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I had the pleasure of attending the 25th Pako Festa held on Saturday, 24 February, in Geelong — the largest festival held outside Melbourne. The theme of the first festa this year was Reflections on Culture. Over 70 cultural groups joined a vibrant, exciting and at times very noisy procession down Pakington Street. It was clearly a joyous celebration of past lives and the present. Children and teenagers were well represented in all cultural presentations. This means there is good cause for optimism that our next generation will continue to build and weave the intricate fabric of multiculturalism into our society, whether it be through a combination of dance, language, costume, art, food or music. Friendships and greater understanding will only build a more tolerant and robust society. I am sure that the 100 000 people who attended the festa will, like me, return next year and in the meantime foster greater cohesion between people of different backgrounds.
Recognition must be given to Diversitat, Louisa La Fornara, Michael Martinez and the Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative for their enormous efforts, and to the Bracks government’s for its $25 000 contribution to the festa and the $27 000 contribution for multicultural activities to community groups around Geelong. It is an indictment of the federal government that it does not have a similar commitment. Increasing community interaction and promoting goodwill — —
The PRESIDENT — Order! The member’s time has expired.