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ADJOURNMENT - Hillsong Emerge Ltd

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (4.54 p.m.)óMy attention has been drawn to press reports of Senate estimates committees and the Australian Labor Partyís effort to discredit Hillsong Emerge. Hillsong is a large church within my electorate and has an outreach and welfare arm called Hillsong Emerge.

Emerge has many aspects, including youth and drug rehabilitation programs. Some sections of the press have not been slow to pick up these criticisms and grossly misrepresent what has actually occurred.

I must pay credit to the local members in the area, federal and state, because not one has picked up these criticisms. I think we all understand the work that is done by Hillsong Emerge. Most of the funds which come to this dynamic community support group are from the congregation of the Hillsong Church. There are some funds from government, but most of the funds they use are from the generous gifts of the members of the congregation.

Hillsong Emerge is a separate and distinct organisation with a separate charter, management and legal entity. The reputation of this group was the reason why an invitation to submit an application to apply under the federal governmentís crime prevention program was taken up by Hillsong Emerge. A funding offer of $414,479 was made to a partnership comprising Hillsong Emerge, the Riverstone Aboriginal Community Association, Riverstone sports centre, Riverstone Neighbourhood Centre and Community Aid Service, Australian Sudanese Youth Union and the Blacktown Police Citizens Youth Club. The administrative costs of this program, to assist in preventing crime and work with youth in western Sydney, was modest for a program of this type and amounted to about 19 per cent of total costs.

The programís aim was, as I have said, to assist young people in western Sydney. A sour-grapes outburst at a meeting from the Labor Mayor of Blacktown, Alderman Kelly, resulted in him calling in partners of this project and encouraging them to break out of the project and establish a separate organisation or separate application of their own. Blacktown City Council receives $14.7 million from the federal government each year, and recently boasted that it has a nest egg of approximately $42 million.

The mayorís manipulation of the Riverstone Aboriginal Community Association did eventually result in their breaking from the group and, despite months of negotiation, it was not possible to have them rejoin. The other five partners of the group were enthusiastic for the projectís continuation. Eventually, the Attorney-Generalís Department made an inquiry, after being kept informed of the process and what was going on in the community, as to whether the original contract could be fulfilled. Of course, the answer to that had to be no, because one partner had decided to withdraw.

As I said, the five continuing partners wanted to proceed with this excellent project which would have been of great benefit to the young people of western Sydney, particularly the Indigenous and ethnic communities, but that was not able to go ahead. Hillsong Emerge have been advised that they would be eligible to apply for further funding with a different composition in the group.

I am extremely disappointed with the attitude of the Mayor of Blacktown. Not only did he succeed in pulling down what was an excellent project, purely out of sour grapes and for party political advantage, but he is now, in the press, blaming Hillsong for poor administration and for being the cause of that process. Nothing could be further from the truth and nothing could be a greater lie. The fact of the matter is that when these matters are reported in the press, extravagant language is used, such as Hillsong being stripped of its funding and that it deceived the Aboriginal community. They are the falsehoods that the mayor is basing his arguments on. (Time expired)

Interjection
The SPEAKERóOrder! It being 5.00 pm, the debate is interrupted.

Author: The Hon Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 16th February 2006
Release Date: 16 Feb 2006

 
 




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