The NSW Labor Opposition has accused the Baird Liberal Government of abandoning the State’s multicultural communities following the admission by minister for citizenship and communities Victor Dominello in Parliament this week that he disbanded 15 Multicultural Consultative Committees at the start of August.
The Committee members were appointed by the NSW Liberals and largely consisted of Liberal members, donors and supporters.
They had been the centrepiece of the Government’s engagement with multicultural communities and a sounding board for advice.
The following Committees were in operation and have now been sacked: Chinese, Egyptian, Filipino, Greek, Indian, Italian, Jewish, Korean, Lebanese, Macedonian, Maori and Pacific Island, Russian, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and Croatian.
In March, Mr Dominello was forced to remove lobbyist Nick Di Girolamo from the Italian Committee amid questions from Labor about his influence over the Liberal Government.
At the time, Mr Dominello had praised the role of the Committees saying: “Ministerial consultative committees were established to engage with the multicultural community throughout the term of government… They are groups of volunteers who work in the community with government to make sure that outcomes are delivered for communities.
Questioned in Budget Estimates this week, Mr Dominello responded: “Those committees no longer exist. The Community Relations Commission … is improving its community engagement strategies…Basically there are going to be metropolitan consultative forums … they will conduct those in November. They will be undertaken in Strathfield, Liverpool and Hornsby.”
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Communities Guy Zangari said on Thursday: “Minister Dominello has serious questions to answer about why he has quietly shut down the Baird Government’s central strategy to engage with multicultural communities – and what he is replacing it with.
“The Government has shut down all 15 Committees in the dead of night – yet it was not even six months ago that Victor Dominello was praising the role of these Committees.
“What happened between March and August? Having removed Nick Di Girolamo, does the Government no longer want to be associated with these Committees given its current exposure before ICAC?
“Why didn’t the Minister inform the public at the time he made this decision – instead of having the news dragged out of him at Budget Estimates?
“The Minister claims Committee members were written to regarding their sacking. However, members I have spoken to have not been advised of the closure of their Committee.”
“Migrant communities have been treated with contempt by the Baird Government – and shutting down these Committees under the cloak of darkness just proves it,” Mr Zangari said.
Published in The Indian Sun, Australia