A short Contribution on Behalf of the Opposition in The Legislative Council re: ST SHENOUDA COPTIC ORTHODOX MONASTERY (NSW) PROPERTY TRUST BILL 2014

The Hon. SHAOQUETT MOSELMANE [10.22 a.m.]: 
I participate in debate on the St Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Monastery (NSW) Property Trust Bill 2014 on behalf of the Opposition and indicate that the Opposition does not oppose the bill, which was introduced by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. The purpose of the bill is to establish a statutory corporation to hold property on trust on behalf of the St Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Monastery. Before I deal in detail with the bill, I must point out that the Coptic community is one of the most closely-knit, well-structured and well-organised church institutions in New South Wales. The Coptic community looks after every person ranging from children to people in aged care. The church is extremely supportive of its members in the areas of education, health and sport. The Coptic church is an institution that really and truly cares for the wellbeing of its members.

I have had personal experience with a couple of Coptic churches in the St George area—St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral at Arncliffe and the St Mary and St Mina Coptic Orthodox Cathedral at Bexley—having had dealings with them over many years. Under the leadership of His Grace Bishop Daniel, the churches serve the community with utmost dedication. The most important feature of this legislation is that there is strong support for the bill within both the Coptic church and the Coptic community. The Opposition also is supportive of this bill as it represents an undertaking of what the Coptic church wants to do. The objects of the bill are to constitute a statutory corporation to hold property on behalf of the St Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Monastery and to specify the functions of the statutory corporation, and to vest in the statutory corporation property held in trust for the monastery, without the need to pay duty.

The bill clearly states provisions that vest property in the trust and outlines the powers of the trust. In Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile's second reading speech he made a case for the introduction of this bill. Throughout New South Wales many churches have been established by the Coptic community, which is a minority religious community in Australia. The Coptic community in the Middle East also is a minority religion, where the church originated. As many members of this House have expressed on previous occasions, the church has been subjected to suppression and oppression, but the church has withstood the pressure and consolidated its position not only in Australia but also overseas while supporting the rights of minority religious people throughout the world. The church supports people who have suffered in places such as Iraqi, Palestine and other places in the Middle East and it continues to stand by those people who suffer as a result of vilification and oppression of minority groups in the Middle East.

All Coptic organisations and religious communities work hand in hand to ensure that Australia has a harmonious religious community. I support the comments made by the Hon. David Clarke, who said that the Coptic community truly should be commended for the work it does for its citizens and for the people of New South Wales. Having said that, I reiterate that the Opposition does not oppose the bill.

 The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane MLC.

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