A report by The Australia Today was cited as evidence in the Federal Parliament of Australia as two political opponents Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs- Liberal MP Jason Wood and Labor MP for Lalor Joanne Ryan had a sharp exchange of words in the Federal Parliament on the 10th of October.
The whole thing started when Shadow Minister Jason Wood put forward a spirited attack on the Albanese government for scraping $50 million worth of ‘Safer Community Grants’ which he claimed was allocated by the previous Morrison government to help and support multicultural communities and their religious institutions.
During his attack in the parliament, Mr Wood said, “Labor members did not understand the benefits of the ‘Safer Community Grants’ because they simply don’t care about these (multifaith) communities.”
To support his statement Mr Wood gave an example claiming Labor MP for Lalor Joanne Ryan didn’t visit a Hindu temple after it was attacked (Fire-bombed) multiple times.
“The invisible member for Lalor (Joanne Ryan) didn’t visit a Hindu temple in Tarneit when it was fire-bombed, gas-bombed, vandalised, robbed and when a vehicle was driven into the temple.”said Mr Wood.
“After all the attacks (on the temple) still the member for Lalor (Joanne Ryan) didn’t support them in their fight.”
Mr Wood claimed, “Member for Lalor’s (Joanne Ryan) electoral office is just 11 km from the attacked Hindu temple in Melbourne’s western suburb of Tarneit and his office is 75 kilometres away.”
“She was nowhere to be seen to help, … but I have been there three times.”
Mr Wood further added, “The Coalition stands for and supports multicultural communities in labor-held seats but lazy Labor member can’t be bothered.”
Ms Joanne Ryan stood in the parliament and rejected these claims. She said she had been misrepresented by Shadow Minister Wood.
In her defence, Ms Ryan said,
“Member for Latrobe (Jason Wood) may wanna read an article that was published in “The Australia Today” where the temple he was referring to says that I have visited it twice.”
What did The Australia Today report
The report that Ms Ryan cited as evidence for her visit to the Hindu temple was published in February this year titled “Truth behind Safer Communities Grants and Minister’s interventions: Fire-bombed Temple, Vandalised Church and Robbed Gurudwara”
The report was concerning the debate around ‘Safer Communities Grants.’
The news article said, “This Hindu temple comes under the Federal Electorate of LALOR which is a safe seat of the Labor party with an almost 17+ per cent margin. Ms Joanne RYAN is the Member of Parliament for Lalor who has visited the Temple once 4-5 years ago and recently once for a Diwali function.”
The temple both Members of Parliament talking about is Swaminarayan Mandir Vasna Sanstha (SMVS) Australia.
This SMVS Australia temple is one of the religious institutions based in the western suburb of Melbourne Tarneit (Address: 435 Davis Rd, Mount Cottrell, VIC 3024).
The Temple has been targeted with vandalism and attacks damaging the property more than 10 times in the year 2017,18 and 2019. As a result of these attacks, there was a feeling of fear among community members who were concerned over the safety of their kids who attend the centre for religious and language learning.
Details of Incidents:
• Temple has been gas bombed twice.
• Fire has been lit in the main electrical switchboard at night.
• Robbed, vandalised, and broken into more than 10 times.
• Ute was driven through the main wall of the Temple damaging all the religious worship items.
• Temple’s main entrance huge metal gate was cut using a metal cutter and stolen.
• Temple regularly faces the risk of attack, harassment or violence stemming from racial & religious intolerance.
Temple applied for Safer Communities Grant with detailed proof, police reports and evidence and got rejected by the department. After Assistant Minister for Safer Communities, Jason Wood’s intervention Temple received a grant amount of $450,000”.
SMVS temple’s management committee told The Australia Today, “Member for Lalor Ms Joanne Ryan has visited the Temple once 6 years ago and recently once for a Diwali function in the year 2021.”
The Australia Today is given to understand that Ms Ryan did not visit Swaminarayan Mandir Vasna Sanstha (SMVS) temple even once after more than 10 attacks in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Each time the attack happened on the temple local Member of the Victorian parliament and Member of the Federal Parliament Joanne Ryan’s office was informed and help was sought.
The Australia Today can also reveal that when the Temple management committee approached her for help as a local federal MP, Ms Ryan even refused to write a supporting letter for SMVS Temple’s Safer Community Grant application.
Ms Ryan ended her statement in Parliament by saying, “If the member for LaTrobe will check the budget, he will find that Labor is supporting the Wyndham multifaith network in this year’s budget.”
On the other side, Mr Wood finished his statement by saying, “Maybe the Labor party needs to find a more active member for Lalor.”
Mr Wood told The Australia Today, “Liberal government has been prepared to support multicultural communities while the Labor MP can’t just drive down the road.”
This is the difference between Labor and Liberal, added Mr Wood.
The Australia Today has contacted Ms Joanne Ryan via email, however, she has not responded as yet. We will update the story as and when we receive a response.