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ADJOURNMENT Hillsong Emerge Speech

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (7.44 p.m.)—Some time ago, an excellent proposal was put to the federal government by Hillsong Emerge. Hillsong Emerge is an organisation similar to Anglicare or Centrecare and is an outreach program of the Hillsong Church. The Hillsong Church is a large church in my electorate with a large attendance, including many young people.

The proposal was to use the crime prevention program announced by the federal government during the election campaign to bring some support to the community of Blacktown. Under the Greater Blacktown Community Partnership Youth project, the strategy was to promote community enhancement, including building a positive rapport with young people, particularly Sudanese and Indigenous young people, in a safe and positive environment; encouraging and empowering young people to progress in their school education and employment; and encouraging and empowering young people to take responsibility for their own lives and contribute to the broader community and to relate positively to authorities and the broader community. They are excellent goals and objectives which are sorely needed and greatly desired by the residents of the greater Western Sydney area.

In Blacktown, the proposal was that partners would work together with leaders of the Sudanese migrant community, police, high schools, community organisations and families in building relationships with Sudanese and other young people through sporting competitions, social events, life skills training, vocational training and employment opportunities to promote their integration into the multicultural Western Sydney community. That is an excellent goal, supported by six organisations coordinated by Hillsong Emerge.

The proposal, which was put to the federal government and adopted, was speared by the Mayor of Blacktown. In a fit of pique, and because of political prejudice, the mayor drew aside one of the partners in this proposal and said that they should not be involved because Hillsong Church was behind it. That is the fact of the matter. Leo Kelly, the mayor, said, ‘You shouldn’t be involved, because Hillsong Church is behind this.’

Hillsong Emerge is a fine and reputable organisation with a great goal and purpose for the people of Western Sydney. For a political purpose alone, a selfish and envious political purpose, a mayor speared this program by drawing out one of the partners separately from the others so that the project could not go ahead.

The member for Greenway has 23 years experience in working with people who are disadvantaged—those who are disenfranchised, the poor, single mums and families who do not receive attention. That has been her whole life commitment, in government agencies and non-government agencies—a range of organisations. She thought—and rightly so—that this program, instigated by the federal government, would be an excellent program for the people of Blacktown and her electorate. The citizens wanted it. Surely the Australian Labor Party would recognise that. Even by tuning into radio programs, they would know about the concern that these problems are resolved.

But not so the Mayor of Blacktown. This project was to find solutions—solutions that would be beneficial to the community. In intensive questioning in Senate estimates committee hearings about the use of these funds, the Australian Labor Party was not able to find one single abuse of funds, one misdirection, one lack of goal or one lack of purpose in any of these programs. Rather, in order to get at the member for Greenway, it has sought to use Hillsong Emerge to do that.

The government is sure that these programs are sound. In fact, in a letter to the press in Blacktown, the minister’s office stated:

... the Minister and the Federal Government are entirely satisfied with the way Hillsong Emerge has conducted itself in these enterprises. Much of the criticism that has been made seems to be politically motivated against Hillsong itself. As far as the Australian Government is concerned Hillsong Emerge is entitled to tender for any pilot or programme, just like any other organisation.

The Senate estimates committee hearings prove that. I repeat:

Much of the criticism that has been made seems to be politically motivated against Hillsong itself. As far as the Australian Government is concerned Hillsong Emerge is entitled to tender for any pilot or programme, just like any other organisation.

I reject the spurious claims of the Mayor of Blacktown as being self-seeking and politically motivated. (Time expired)

Author: Hon Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 29th March 2006
Release Date: 22 Jun 2006


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