Minister challenged over multi-cultural committees

August 13, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Communities Guy Zingari has challenged his NSW Parliament counterpart Victor Dominello for details of 15 committees established to offer advice on multicultural issues.

The following is a prepared statement from the Shadow Minister:

Victor Dominello

Victor Dominello

NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello has today refused to answer simple questions in Budget Estimates about the 15 committees he has appointed to advise him on multicultural policy.
The O’Farrell Government has established the following Multicultural Consultative Committees: Chinese, Egyptian, Filipino, Greek, Indian, Italian, Jewish, Korean, Lebanese, Macedonian, Maori/Pacific Island, Russian, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and Croatian.
Yet in response to repeated questions from the NSW Labor Opposition in recent months, the Government has failed to provide NSW taxpayers with the following basic information:
·         The names of Chairs of each committee;
·         The names of Members of each committee;
·         Criteria for selection;
·         Budget allocation for each committee;
·         A list of each committee’s aims and objectives; and
·         Time, location and frequency of committee meetings.

 

Guy Zangari

Guy Zangari

Today in Budget Estimates, Mr Dominello again obfuscated and then claimed he had published a list of “aims and objectives” of the committees when he actually hasn’t.
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Communities Guy Zangari said: “Everything about Victor Dominello’s multicultural committees is shrouded in secrecy.”
“What are these committees doing? Who is on them? Why won’t the Minister tell us?
“You would hope these committee positions are not just a cushy home for Liberal Party donors and supporters.
“Members of any multicultural community in NSW should be able to access their committee to provide feedback to the O’Farrell Government.
“Here we are in Budget Estimates and Minister Dominello won’t provide answers under oath.
“This just smells like a rort – and taxpayers are entitled to ask what’s going on.”
It was also revealed today that the O’Farrell Government has broken its promise to hold the 2013 Voices of Harmony concert as outlined in its glossy Multicultural Advantage Plan published before the 2011 election.
“It is a tremendous disappointment that the O’Farrell Government cancelled the Voices of Harmony concert,” Mr Zangari said.
“This would have been a landmark event for our State and a chance to showcase our diversity to the world.”

J-Wire sought a statement from Minister Dominello. A spokesman said : “In response to questions in today’s Budget Estimates hearing, Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello praised the work of the NSW Government’s Ministerial Consultative Committees in helping raise the needs and concerns of the State’s multicultural communities.

“The 15 Ministerial Consultative Committees include more than 300 people who voluntarily give up their personal time for the benefit of NSW,” Mr Dominello said.

“The membership of these committees, which represent 15 multicultural communities in NSW, is open for anyone to apply. They are reflective of the diverse population we have in this state.

“While the committee chair positions are public, as they are Members of Parliament, it is up to the discretion of the individual committee members to decide whether or not they wish to have their membership of the committees made public.”

In response to questions from the Opposition, Mr Dominello said he had publicly provided the aims of the committees a year ago.

“These committees are a successful way for communities to identify ways that the delivery of government services to multicultural communities can improve,” Mr Dominello said.

“Members of the committees also have access to direct information from members of the NSW Government and the public service to assist their communities in understanding what government services are on offer.

“Through their hard work they have been able to achieve a number of positive outcomes such as the introduction of the study of Russian languages in the HSC and providing information on preventing domestic violence,” Mr Dominello said.

“For the benefits of their communities, committee members also attend regular symposiums to hear from public figures who speak on issues important to them such as changes in multicultural media and major multicultural sporting events.”

Jonathan O'Dea, Vic Alhadeff, Gabrielle Upton, Yaron Finkelstein, Yair Miller, Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Jonathan O’Dea, Vic Alhadeff, Gabrielle Upton, Yaron Finkelstein, Yair Miller, Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Mr Dominello thanked members of the committees for their work during the first half of 2013 in assisting multicultural communities raise their issues of importance and concern.”

Guy Zangari told J-Wire: “There’s funding involved and we need to know how the program benefits the communities. It would seem a member of the communities cannot get in touch with the representatives if we don’t know who is on the committees but I agree the concept is a good one.  Input from the multicultural communities is important. If I want to know who is involved on the committees I have to ask the Chairperson. Why is there secrecy? We need to know if those involved include some with links to the Liberal party and the opposition is not invited or consulted as to what is happening. All we hear is anecdotal – we need their work to be open and transparent. For example, the Minister cancelled the Voices in Harmony concert because it conflicted with Easter! But they must have known the Easter date when the concert was planned and we need to know what happened to the funds allocated to the concert.”

Vic Alhadeff, CEO of  The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, told J-Wire: “The Jewish community is represented by Yair Miller, Jeremy Spinak, Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Sam Zweig, Roma Shell and myself.”

The Chair of the Jewish committee is shared by Gabrielle Upton Liberal State MP for Vaucluse and Jonathan O’Dea, State Liberal MP for Davidson

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