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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13272


Mr HAYES (Fowler) (10:50): As the federal member for Fowler I have the privilege and responsibility of representing the most multicultural electorate in the whole of Australia. Recently it was brought to my attention that a certain current affairs program was aired and was considered very demeaning to Asian people to the point that they thought it was very discriminatory. A significant proportion of my electorate speaks an Asian language at home. As a matter of fact, 30 per cent of my electorate is made up of Asian speakers. My office is located in Cabramatta and, therefore, I am able to immerse myself in the Asian culture. I believe that multiculturalism is one of the greatest strengths that we have in this country, and we are very fortunate as a nation to be able to learn from so many different cultures.

I bring the House's attention to some recent events which have been organised by my Vietnamese community in particular. Recently I attended the charity dinner organised by the Vietnamese Community in Australia, New South Wales Chapter. The VCA spent the past couple of months fundraising for the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia. VCA President, Mr Thanh Nguyen, and VCA Vice-President, Dr Tien Nguyen, have advised me that the fundraising campaign was very successful. Prior to the dinner they had raised $50,000, and at the dinner at Canley Vale they raised another $90,000.

I also refer to the fundraising effort of a very good friend of mine, Bao Khanh Nguyen. She is a prominent human rights campaigner, but is also a person who single-handedly over the last month alone raised $13,000 for Legacy. She is very determined that we do as much as we can to look after Australian diggers and their families, particularly those who are still suffering in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

I was also able to attend a function recently organised by the Vietnamese Students' Association, a very active body in my electorate. This fundraising effort was called the Senhoa project and was organised to help survivors of human trafficking in Cambodia. Predominantly the people being trafficked are Vietnamese girls from the ages of eight through to 16. My thanks go to Nhi Pham and Khoa Nguyen, as well as the Vietnamese Students' Association as a whole. They have taken it upon themselves, as well as being very successful in their own fields in Australia, to make sure that they are doing good work to look after people less privileged elsewhere. I think that is a credit to the mentality they bring to the modern face of Australia.

I consider that we have genuine strengths in multiculturalism and we should not be fearful about getting up and saying that this is one of the greatest things that Australia has going for it. It is the heart of our diversity.