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Monday, 30 May 2011
Page: 5131

Mr FLETCHER (Bradfield) (10:48): I rise in this House to show support for the Armenian community and join with them in the solemn commemoration of the Armenian genocide. Many Armenian Australians are situated in and around my electorate of Bradfield on Sydney's North Shore. It is estimated that there are around 50,000 Armenians living in Australia, and about 40,000 of those live in the federal electorates of Bradfield, Bennelong and North Sydney. Armenian Australians have made an enormous contribution to Australian life and are prominent in many areas of commerce, trade and politics. I particularly note the Armenian heritage of my friend and colleague the Hon. Joe Hockey, and my friend and colleague in the New South Wales state parliament, and now the Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the Armenian Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Hranush Hakobyan. Australia's multicultural society has benefited greatly from the contribution of Armenians, but their presence here was triggered by the dispersion of Armenians from their homeland in greater Armenia, which lies in the highlands surrounded Mount Ararat, where Armenians have lived for over 4,000 years. In modern times, we have witnessed the atrocity of the Armenian genocide, which began on 24 April 1915. Regrettably, the Armenian genocide has not yet been formally recognised by the Australian government, and I join with my parliamentary colleague Mr Hockey and my parliamentary colleague Mr Alexander in calling for that to happen. Between 1915 and 1923, 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children perished. It is appropriate that we pause to reflect upon this atrocity and to join with the Armenian Australian community in mourning the lost souls of families and friends.

The Armenian genocide decimated a nation, and the tragic events of 70 years ago continue to reverberate through generations and through descendants spread the world over. In the national Parliament of Australia, it is therefore important and appropriate that we take the time to mark this sad anniversary—as a nation which has offered a home to so many people of Armenian descent, as a nation whose core values are profoundly confronted by the horror of what happened in the Armenian genocide and as a nation which is a member of the community of nations committed to building a harmonious and peaceful world, unblemished by the kind of ethnic hatred of which the Armenian genocide is, sadly, one of all too many examples.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): I thank the honourable member, and I am sure that all members would associate themselves with the sentiments expressed by the honourable members for North Sydney, Bradfield and Bennelong.