Excellences, the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten, Parliamentary colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

The Islamic Museum of Australia is a celebration of the contribution that people of Islamic faith have woven into the rich fabric of Australian society. Through the acquisition, preservation and display of fine examples of Islamic art and artefacts, architecture and culture, this museum provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to better understand and appreciate the tangible and intangible contribution that Islam has made to Australia’s development, indeed to the wider world and to civilisation itself.

From the first known contact in the mid-1600s of Muslim fisherman from South East Asia trading with Aborigines in Northern Australia, to the Afghan camel drivers who not only helped explore, but supported the European development of outback Australia, to the successive waves of migration from migrants who come from Muslim countries around the world, people of the Muslim faith have flourished in this wonderful country.

From the traders to the business owners, the artisans to the bankers, teachers, doctors, sporting heroes and politicians, members of our Muslim communities have added so much to the social, economic, political and cultural life of this country and in doing so they have added to the abundant diversity that means that this is one of the most successful multicultural nations on earth.

Respect for each other, respect for different cultures, different cultural identities, respect for faiths and religions, is one of Australia’s greatest strengths. And we are renowned the world over for being an open, tolerant, liberal democracy committed to freedoms, to the rule of law, to individual rights and responsibilities. To protect, indeed to enhance our quality of life and our values we must never take it for granted, neither ignore it nor assume it. And to better appreciate who we are as a nation we need to understand more about our history, where we’ve come from and that can give us a sense of the future, where we’re heading.

Education is the key to understanding our history, understanding our nation and the Islamic Museum of Australia is key to promoting a greater understanding of Islamic faith, heritage, history and its cultural significance and connection to Australia.

The museum is also key to promoting a greater understanding of the positive contribution that members of our Muslim communities and the communities at large have made to Australia.

Therefore, I am delighted this evening to announce that the Australian Government will provide a grant of $500,000 to the Islamic Museum of Australia for an educational program that will be designed to enhance understanding and awareness amongst our students - our primary and secondary students.

Ahmed, to you and your family, thank you and I congratulate you for your efforts in promoting social cohesion and harmony, not only in Victoria, but across Australia. And to the many members of the Muslim communities, here in this state and across Australia, I thank you, I commend you for your efforts. Your fine example and your leadership is to the betterment of us all.

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