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Thursday, 1 March 2018
Page: 2576


Ms BANKS (Chisholm) (12:19): I rise today to discuss the Lunar New Year, which has been celebrated across Melbourne with such energy and excitement, particularly in my electorate of Chisholm, where the Year of the Dog was welcomed by festivities throughout the community. The wonderful electorate of Chisholm, which includes the suburbs of Box Hill, Blackburn South, Burwood and Mount Waverley and which I'm proud to represent in the parliament of Australia, is home to over 23,000 Australians of Chinese heritage, with more than 30,000 residents speaking Mandarin and/or Cantonese. As such, I'm delighted to represent the highest percentage of Australians of Chinese heritage throughout the country.

Chinese New Year is a special time for families throughout our local community. The iconic Box Hill Chinese New Year Festival is a long-held tradition for families and friends from Chisholm and more broadly across Melbourne to gather and herald the new year with fabulous fun and food. I was delighted to represent the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, at the official opening ceremony.

As the federal member for Chisholm, I enjoy having a strong relationship with the multicultural communities in our local community. From my stall at the festival and through my participation in the opening ceremony, I witnessed the fantastic warmth and vibrancy of the Asian-Australian community in Box Hill and in Chisholm more broadly, as is particularly evidenced on these joyful festive days. Strong involvement—from the dedicated work of the Asian Business Association of Whitehorse and their president and vice president, Tom Zheng and William Ma respectively, to the energetic and passionate lion dancers and from hardworking local traders to the families who continue these important cultural traditions—represents the wonderful contribution by the over one million Australians of Chinese heritage in our nation.

So too I was pleased to attend the Buddha's Light New Year first light offering and world peace blessing, superbly organised by David Yu, President of the Buddha's Light International Association of Victoria. This ceremony, for Christians and Buddhists alike, reminds us of the revitalised gifts and blessings a new year brings.

On the next day, I was honoured to join the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, at the awakening of the Melbourne Dai Loong Dragon and the official opening of the 2018 Melbourne Chinese New Year Festival in Melbourne's Chinatown. I'm told by Eng Lim, the president and key organiser of this magnificent ceremony, that this was the first time a Prime Minister of Australia had attended the entirety of this magnificent ceremony in the heart of Melbourne. It was a joy to be there, together with the Prime Minister, with the honour of being amongst the vibrancy and colour and warmth of this official opening.

The final Chinese New Year celebration in Chisholm was the exciting and extremely popular visit by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Box Hill Central on the Monday following the New Year weekend. Prime Minister Turnbull was described by the local paper as a fan favourite, and he and I were greeted by hundreds of Chisholm residents who all enthusiastically showed their goodwill, joy and excitement that the Prime Minister had taken the time for this local visit in my electorate at such a special time for the Chinese community. I was honoured to introduce the Prime Minister to all the hardworking local business owners, and the Prime Minister was quick to celebrate their indelible contribution to the Chisholm community. I was incredibly proud to showcase to the Prime Minister the vibrant Chinese community in Box Hill and Chisholm, a community which represents the best values of family and the hard-work ethic and good fortune in our local community.

The attendance of the Prime Minister at the Melbourne Chinese New Year Festival in Chinatown, as well as his marvellous visit to Box Hill Central with me, signifies the truly great contribution that Australians of Chinese heritage have made and continue to make to our society. It is also indicative of the value which the Turnbull government places on Australia's multicultural community. The over one million Australians of Chinese heritage nationally are a significant contributor to making Australia the most successful multicultural nation on this earth. As such, I was so proud to have the opportunity to join the Prime Minister in celebrating the Lunar New Year period with the natural warmth, love and goodwill of the thousands of Australians of Chinese heritage who live in Chisholm and Melbourne.

I wish all Australians a wonderful Lunar New Year and extend my most sincere best wishes for a prosperous new year ahead, filled with love, family, joy and friendship. May the Year of the Dog bring great fortune and happiness in the months ahead.