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Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Page: 12406

Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (22:25): I rise this evening to mention a number of associated events I have been privileged to be part of over the last few weeks with my friends from the Indian and subcontinent communities. On Sunday, 14 August I joined the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and a number of other colleagues to attend the United India Association's India Australia Friendship Fair at Sydney Olympic Park. The UIA's motto is 'unity in diversity', which eloquently sums up what makes this country great. Australia is a country united in its blend of races and cultures, and our local communities are stronger for the contribution of our new citizens. It is indeed a privilege for me to represent such a large number of residents of Indian descent in the electorate of Greenway.

The India Australia Friendship Fair celebrated both India's independence and the vibrant multicultural nature of modern Australia. It brought together a fusion of various dances and music, and a variety of traditional and contemporary cuisines from all around Sydney, displaying the exciting contribution of the Indian community to the Australian way of life. The day highlighted the strength of multiculturalism in Australia and reaffirmed the shared and important cultural, economic and social bonds between our respective countries.

I would like to put on the record my sincere thanks to the President of the United India Association, Mr Amrinder Bajwa, for his steadfast commitment to the betterment of the Greenway community and the wider community. It is organisations like the UIA that make my community the amazing place it is. I thank them for their promotion of a harmonious relationship between all Australian citizens, including those of Indian descent.

Following the India Australia Friendship Fair, I had the privilege of attending the Karwa Chauth festival in Blacktown in my electorate. This festival is dedicated to the prosperity, longevity and wellbeing of all families, particularly highlighting the love and respect of women for their husbands, and vice versa. It was again a fantastic reminder of the great community spirit that exists in my electorate. The Karwa Chauth festival highlighted another great reality that exists in my electorate: the youthful nature of Greenway. The Greenway electorate is the second youngest in the country with 8.2 per cent of its population aged zero to five years. This was certainly on show during the Karwa Chauth festival, which was great to see.

Similar to the comments by the member for Holt, last Sunday I again joined with the Indian community from my electorate and from all over Australia at the Parramatta Stadium to celebrate the Deepavali Festival. Also known as the 'festival of lights', Deepavali is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for those of the Hindu, Jain and Sikh faiths. It transformed Parramatta Stadium with rows of lights and fireworks celebrating the triumph of good over evil. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Hindu Council of Australia, including its chair, Professor Nihal Agar, and his entire team for organising such a wonderful day. As I mentioned, the festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, as well as knowledge over ignorance. It is marked by placing diyas around the home, as it is believed that a light shining from a diya will bring hope and prosperity to all.

Over the last few weeks, Greenway has been invigorated with a very festive atmosphere brought on by the Deepavali celebrations. Last Wednesday thousands of people filled the Gurudwara temple in my home suburb of Glenwood to celebrate Deepavali. Houses have been decorated with lights in just about every street, and business owners throughout the suburbs of Seven Hills, Pendle Hill and Toongabbie adorned their shopfronts with Deepavali decorations and offered me far too many sweets and samosas as I visited their small businesses last week. Deepavali is a festival which at its essence is about joy, happiness and peace, and this was also on show last night, when I joined with the Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, to celebrate Deepavali in Parliament House.

I feel very strongly about multiculturalism and the role it plays in our society. The diverse range of cultures contributes to the vibrant nature of our lives. I am reminded of this at every citizenship ceremony I have the privilege of attending over the Blacktown, Holroyd and Parramatta local government areas. I would like to thank the Indian and subcontinent communities in my electorate for their contribution to our society and reaffirm my commitment to multiculturalism in Greenway and around the country in general.

House adjourned at 22:30