Minns Labor Government faces criticism over delayed funding for multicultural communities

By Our Reporter
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Representational Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

The Minns Labor Government is under scrutiny for alleged inconsistencies in fulfilling its promise to secure religious institutions and multicultural communities. The controversy came to light during the first day of Budget Estimates when Steve Kamper, Minister for Multiculturalism, faced a public correction over his statement concerning budget allocation for this purpose.

Minister Kamper initially stated that the budget for 2023-24 allocated $15 million for faith organisations to bolster safety measures at their premises. This was promptly countered by Joseph La Posta, the CEO of Multicultural NSW, who clarified that only $3 million had been budgeted for this fiscal year. According to La Posta, the remaining $12 million is planned for allocation over the next three years.

This revelation has led to concerns over the government’s commitment to its election pledges, particularly at a time when community tensions are heightened. Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure criticised Kamper for his lack of awareness regarding his own portfolio. “This is a Minister that doesn’t know his own budget and what it means for our multicultural communities,” Coure said. He added, “At a time when there are heightened community tensions, this funding is essential to keep our places of worship, religious facilities, schools, and buildings safe.”

The criticism is not unfounded. Communities and organisations have been waiting for details on the program only to find that the guidelines are still undetermined. Coure called for urgent action, pressing Kamper to liaise with the NSW Treasurer to release more funds within this financial year. He stressed that religious and faith organisations should not bear additional costs for the sake of their safety.

While the initial commitment by Labor leader Chris Minns to invest $15 million was welcomed as a positive step to foster a secure environment for faith-based communities, the recent developments have given pause for thought. The delay in funding and the discrepancy in information divulged indicate a gap in either communication or understanding within the government.

Beyond just numbers, the delayed allocation raises questions about the Labor Government’s earnestness in following through on its election promises. The narrative of this funding delay fits into broader discussions about how committed the government is to safeguarding religious freedoms and fostering social cohesion. The absence of clear guidelines and full funding in an area as critical as this is concerning, especially when there is a consensus on the importance of these initiatives.

The Minns Labor Government needs to promptly address these concerns. Beyond clarifying the financial details, it must also provide a definitive plan and timeline to reassure communities about its commitment to their safety and wellbeing. As it stands, the delay and vagueness surrounding the funding program not only undermine the government’s credibility but also could have real-world consequences for multicultural and multifaith communities who had counted on this financial support.

The ball is now in the government’s court. What happens next will offer insights into how seriously it takes its own pledges and the very real needs of the diverse communities it has promised to serve.


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