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Remarks [speech] at Chinese Commemorative Gardens Inauguration, Pinegrove Memorial Park, Sydney



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

21 October 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR REMARKS AT CHINESE COMMEMORATIVE GARDENS INAUGURATION, PINEGROVE MEMORIAL PARK, SYDNEY

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

Chairman, Parliamentary and Council colleagues, Isabelle White, Ed Husic, the local member, Philip Ruddock, the Father of the House of Representatives, Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister - I bid all of you greetings on this very auspicious day.

I have two tasks today, ladies and gentlemen: first, to pay tribute to the work and the achievements of the Australian Chinese community; and second, to acknowledge the role of ancestors in the life of all of us present today.

Since shortly after the First Fleet arrived in this country, people from China and people of Chinese background have played an important and honourable part in the life of Australia.

By the time we came together as a nation in 1901, already 100,000 Chinese people had come to this country.

Today, some 700,000 Australians are of Chinese background. They have included some of our most remarkable citizens: Professor John Yu, a former Australian Year, the late great Victor Chang, and many others.

I am particularly proud that the first Chinese-born member of any Australian parliament was my friend the Honourable Helen Sham-Ho, a member of the New South Wales upper house. I’m also proud that the first Chinese born member of our national Parliament was my friend Senator Tsebin Tchen.

May I say that throughout the history of the Chinese here in Australia, their lives have been marked by hard work, participation in small business, respect for education and, above all else, respect for the people, the cultures and the institutions that have shaped them and today we celebrate that respect for the people who have shaped us.

It was the great political thinker Edmund Burke who once said that society is partnership between those who are living, those are dead and those who are yet to be born. But the Chinese instinctively understood this for thousands of years before Edmund Burke articulated it.

You know that we are all the products of the people who have gone before us. We are all links in a great chain of life. Through our parents and grandparents, people who we have never known are holding our hands - metaphorically, at least - today, and through our children and grandchildren, we will hold the hands of people who here on this earth we will never know and by respecting those who have come before us, we

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honour them, we build up our society and we hope that those who come after us will respect us and respect our achievements in our time.

So, ladies and gentlemen, this is an auspicious day. These are beautiful gardens.

I thank InvoCare. I thank Andrew Smith for his work in maintaining them. I particularly thank Richard Davis, his predecessor, who I think was in some respects the originator of this idea, in common with members of the Chinese community.

This is an auspicious day. Thank you for having me. It is an honour to be here.

[ends]