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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 688

Mr HAYES (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (11:48): I rise this morning to congratulate two people in my community who, through their extraordinary efforts, were recognised and awarded an Order of Australia. Both of these gentlemen were refugees to this country.

I would like to begin by speaking about a good friend of mine, Mr Vincent Kong, OAM. Vincent is a very humble man and a most deserving person. He came to Australia with nothing, but today he is the managing director of one of the largest Asian grocery providers in Australia. In the early 1980s, Vincent and his family set out on a vessel from a small fishing village in war-torn Vietnam fleeing oppression. They battled extreme weather conditions and outran pirates, eventually arriving in Australia, where they were granted asylum. Vincent has never forgotten the kindness that he and his family received from Australia and was determined to give back to this community.

Vincent is now the president of the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society at the Mingyue Lay Temple in Bonnyrigg. He has been responsible for substantial fundraising efforts, including the raising of many, many thousands of dollars for Australians in need. He has used his own resources to help acquire property for various community organisations. Vincent is also involved in fundraising activities for schools, donating significant amounts of food and produce each year. With the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society, he has raised substantial funds for St Vincent's Hospital and the Red Cross. Vincent is never one for shying away from genuine charitable causes. Vincent is devoted to his wife, Elaine, and his three children but has always made time for families in crisis in my community.

That brings me to another friend, Dr Vinh Binh Lieu, OAM, who was recently recognised for his exceptional commitment to the provision of health care services to both the Vietnamese and the broader Australian community. Dr Lieu, together with his wife and a daughter, fled Vietnam in early 1979. In a small fishing vessel, with over 300 people on board, he and his family spent two weeks at sea, risking the elements and outrunning pirates, with very little food and water on board. Eventually making it to Thailand, they were processed by the UNHCR and then, later that year, settled in Australia with nothing except a dream for freedom.

Dr Lieu has been a general practitioner in Bankstown since 1986. His dedication to the community earnt him the Citizen of the Year award in Bankstown in 2012. Dr Lieu is chair of the Bankstown Primary Health Network committee and holds a position on the board of directors for the Sydney South West GP Link. He was formerly a vice president of Vietnamese Community in Australia. Dr Lieu is also the founder and editor of a national bilingual Vietnamese-English medical magazine providing the community with valuable information about issues affecting Australian health care, clinical research and general good health and wellbeing. He also established the Vietnamese-Australian Medical Association, allowing medical practitioners of Vietnamese descent to work together to provide the best quality of health care for patients in our community. Dr Lieu has worked tirelessly to organise a large number of health conferences in our local community, such as a lung cancer seminar for the Cancer Institute New South Wales. Dr Lieu is also passionate about raising funds for communities in need. One example of this is a charity dinner that he organised in January 2011 as part of the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal, where his efforts raised $120,000.

There is so much more I would like to say about Mr Kong and Dr Lieu, with their immense contributions to our community, demonstrating the true value of Australia's multiculturalism. I conclude by acknowledging the many individuals that have come to Australia as refugees, contributing much to our nation. I congratulate the broad range of award recipients who were honoured and who continue to excel and serve our community and our nation with a wide range of skills. It is such examples which make me extremely proud to be working within such a strong, diverse and vibrant community.

Debate adjourned.