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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13241


Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (13:33): Earlier this month I attended a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Chinese-Australia History Museum. Thirty years is a long time in the context of the volunteers who have established and maintained this important museum, but it is a short time in the context of the history of Australian-Chinese culture.

The first recorded arrival of a Chinese person in Australia was in 1818, and by the 1850s around four per cent of the Australian population was born in China, a proportion that is very similar to the proportion that we see today. But what a different cultural context faces the Australian-Chinese community of today. Gone is the institutional discrimination that confronted the Chinese residents of Melbourne when they, in order to celebrate the first meeting of the federation parliament of Australia, erected a Chinese-style pagoda in the Chinatown of the federation era. Today, the Chinese Museum, which is just up the road from that Chinese-style pagoda, is a well-established institution that celebrates Chinese-Australian culture.

Over its 30-year history, the museum has housed permanent and temporary exhibitions to nationally and internationally host young and upcoming Chinese artists, and it has grown significantly in size and prestige. I congratulate the museum's inaugural director, Dr Christine Liao, and the current chairman, Dr Bill Au, and the dedicated staff and volunteers, who have worked so hard to make the museum what it is today. As an Australian with children who have Chinese heritage, I look forward to the museum providing a narrative of the Australian-Chinese heritage of Australia for the 30 years to come, and many more.