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Thursday, 21 June 2012
Page: 7584

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (12:51): Last night I was fortunate to attend a dinner with His Excellency Mr Taeyong Cho, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea. At the dinner, Ambassador Cho talked about his desire for an increased cultural connectivity between Australian and Korean people and about how he had recently attended AFL, NRL and ARL matches to better understand an attribute of great cultural importance in Australian society: sport. I spoke of my firm belief that the engagement between our two communities on the sporting field is one of the ultimate expressions of closeness of our diplomatic and cultural relations. Just like close friends, nations that play together will grow together.

Last year, I was delighted to be able to organise the Korean men's and women's table tennis teams to come to Bennelong for the inaugural Bennelong Cup Test Match in celebration of 60 years of diplomatic relations, in which they comprehensively beat their Australian counterparts, as well as visiting schools and promoting the Bennelong schools table tennis program, which will put table tennis tables in every school in the electorate. The Korean men's team will return this year and be joined by the Chinese women's team in a further development of the Bennelong Cup Test Match competition.

There is estimated to be over 55,000 Korean speakers in Australia, many of whom make up an important and vibrant part of the multicultural electorate of Bennelong. Over the past two years, I have joined the local Korean community in many events from the regular chamber of commerce early morning street clean-ups on the eastern side of the Eastwood station, to flamboyant traditional dancing, drumming and Lunar New Year celebrations. Through all of those events, the local Korean community astounds with their ceaseless hospitality, friendliness and affection for their cultural traditions. The friendships I have made in the community are some of the most cherished achievements over the past two years and it goes without saying that I was thrilled last Saturday to join the local community and former Australian of the Year Ian Kiernan at a ceremony for World Environment Day: Clean Up Together for Global Harmony. The constant theme throughout this event was a celebration of the ways in which the Bennelong Korean community have actively engaged with wider society, noting that it is through events like Clean Up Australia that we interact, become deeply involved with each other and learn of new and different cultural activities and traditions.

Both in the Bennelong electorate and wider Australia, new migrants have helped to shape the face and the soul of our nation. It is within this context that I would also like to wish to extol the actions of another great Bennelong institution, Macquarie University. This week is Refugee Week, which provides me with an opportunity to congratulate Macquarie University on their refugee-mentoring program. The theme of Refugee Week 2012 is restoring hope. Macquarie University's refugee-mentoring program is doing just that. The mentoring program known as LEAP—Learning, Education, Aspiration and Participation—encourages and supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds to transition into higher education. The mentors from Macquarie University provide individual mentoring support for small groups of students. This innovative program deserves our recognition. I applaud Macquarie University.

On a final note, this being the last sitting day before the commencement of the 2012 all England lawn tennis championships in Wimbledon, I wish all our Australian competitors the best of luck. From our youngest competitor on the block, Ashleigh Barty, to the old warrior Lleyton Hewitt, our tennis players work as both sports people and diplomatic representatives, and they make us proud on the international stage. To paraphrase the inscription above the entry to centre court: regardless of meeting with triumph or disaster, treat those two imposters just the same.