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Monday, 27 September 1999
Page: 10666


Mr JENKINS (10:30 PM) —The outer northern suburbs of Melbourne, and in particular the city of Whittlesea, are the products of the most positive application of multicultural Australia, not as a mere theory but in practice. This is the Australia that I have experienced throughout my life. I have been able to live within a community that displays the rich tapestry of Australia—an Australia made up of people from a range of backgrounds who are united by their desire to see that Australia progresses as a united, tolerant society.

One of the ways this community has been able to achieve that type of cohesion is by sharing the experiences of the various communities that make up the overall geographic community. Over the past few years, a number of those communities have put together historical backgrounds by way of oral histories converted into other media, whether it be books or posters or, in some cases, videos. It was in this context that on 20 August I was pleased to be a part of the launch of the history, art and culture of the Chinese settlement in the city of Whittlesea, entitled Mooncake and Meat Pies.

The history of Chinese involvement in the city of Whittlesea dates back to the late 1800s. There is reference in the 1880s to a Chinese market garden which lay between the Plenty River and Bruces Creek. Unfortunately, whilst there is photographic evidence of such a market garden, there is very little written history. The exact date that the Chinese market garden was established is unknown, and the reasons that it found itself on the other side of the Whittlesea township are unknown. It is believed that the establishment of the market garden occurred at about the time of the Yan Yean reservoir, which was the first part of a reticulated water system to Melbourne.

The interesting thing about those of Chinese background who have made the city of Whittlesea their home is the diverse geopolitical areas that they have come from. Not only do they come from the People's Republic of China but also from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and even East Timor. The way in which they have been able to come together as a community and, through organisations such as the North-East Melbourne Chinese Association, to be able to work as a self-help group is to be admired, given that they come from such a variety of backgrounds.

The history of the Chinese community follows the histories of the Macedonian community in the city of Whittlesea and in Westgarthtown, which was a German community late last century. It has added to the other oral histories of more Anglo-dominated parts of the city of Whittlesea, such as South Morang and the soldiers' settlement, which started in Lalor as the Peter Lalor Housing Co-op.

This book is authored by Arthur—as he is known—Boon Wah Yong. One of the motivations for Arthur putting together this collection of 17 stories of very successful Chinese people in our community was the outrage that he felt in the early days of the One Nation party. The tone of the launch of this booklet was that Chinese migrants and the Chinese community felt that the way in which Pauline Hanson took over the expression `one nation' left them out of it. They had tried to achieve recognition that they were part of Australia as one nation. No matter what their differences are and what diversity they bring to Australia, they see Australia as a tolerant society, with people working together and obeying the one set of laws and in doing so sharing that diversity was creating this one nation. (Time expired)