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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11463


Mr DICK (Oxley) (11:02): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) Brisbane's southside hosts a vibrant Vietnamese-Australian community; and

(b) Vietnamese migration is a successful case of multiculturalism at its finest and has strengthened the social fabric of Australian society;

(2) recognises that:

(a) Australia must continue to advocate for freedom and the respect of human rights for the people of Vietnam and for all people around the world;

(b) international human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch, have become increasingly concerned about abuses to human rights in Vietnam;

(c) Vietnam's prisons currently hold at least 140 political prisoners; and

(d) during the first five months of 2018 alone, at least 26 rights activists and bloggers were put on trial, convicted and sentenced to long prison terms; and

(3) calls on the Australian Government to:

(a) exert pressure on the Vietnamese Government to allow thorough examination of claims of human rights abuses;

(b) seek the holding of those responsible for these abuses to account; and

(c) help protect vulnerable citizens from human rights abuses in Vietnam.

At a time when those opposite, the members of the current government, would seek to polarise the Australian public with their alarmist and dog-whistling statements on immigration, the motion I put before the House today is one that celebrates and embraces our multicultural heritage and, in particular, the flourishing Vietnamese community in the south side of Brisbane which I proudly represent. With almost 10,000 people born in Vietnam and a further 15,000 tracing their ancestry to Vietnam, my electorate of Oxley has one of the largest Vietnamese communities in Australia, and we are all the better for it. Alongside those in the electorates of Fowler, Maribyrnong, Blaxland, Gellibrand, Moreton and Bruce, our local Vietnamese enrich our society with their culture, their food and their dedication to Australian values.

It was under the leadership of former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and the bipartisan politics of the day that, between 1975 and 1982, Australia welcomed about 200,000 immigrants from Asian countries, including nearly 56,000 from Vietnam alone. Fraser said in later years that one of the reasons for the enormous success of the Vietnamese migration in the seventies and eighties was that Vietnamese people and other refugees, wherever they came from, were warmly welcomed with assistance and generosity. Perhaps members of the current government could learn from those decades-ago achievements. I want to be very clear in the House that that is a lesson that we must hear and a lesson that is relevant today. I'd like to particularly acknowledge my friends in the Vietnamese community who have given me so much support, first as a Brisbane city councillor and now as a member of this place.

Today, I acknowledge the President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, Queensland Chapter, my great friend Dr Cuong Bui OAM. Dr Bui for many years has devoted his life and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of local Vietnamese communities as well as those living abroad and suffering under the communist government of Vietnam today. He serves as President of the Queensland Chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia and has held the role of National President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia. He has been a member of the Ethnic Affairs Advisory Council, Chairman of the Migrant Settlement Council, a member of the Australian Refugee Advisory Council and Chairman of the Vietnamese Family Group Home. I'm privileged to call him a friend and to thank him from the bottom of my heart for his service to our community, alongside his hardworking executive, volunteers, members of the community and a range of organisations in my electorate that provide so much cohesion, direction and inclusive behaviour that our community has embraced.

I also want to acknowledge the secretary, Bac Lam—originally from the Northern Territory and now doing so much work for events and activities to provide a bridge between Vietnamese Australians and the wider community. I also acknowledge amazing advocates like Quang; my great friend Phuong Nguyen, who has given me so much support and inspiration over the years; Tuan Le; and my own Vietnamese mother, Ma Chum. They have been responsible for holding so many inclusive community events, including the Children's Moon Festival, the Tet Festival and the Women's Festival.

However, sadly, many Vietnamese people remain oppressed and denied their rightful freedoms. One of the great joys I have had is learning from and understanding my Vietnamese friends. Whilst they have embraced Australia and contributed so much to our economy and vibrant community right across this country, they never forget those family members, friends, comrades and those people who have stood alongside them, fighting against the brutal, evil Vietnamese dictatorship. Human rights violations are continuing to happen every single day, and we must stand up and fight for those Vietnamese people. We know that during the first six months of 2018, the Vietnamese government has convicted and imprisoned at least 26 human rights bloggers and activists under communist laws. We know that these activists remain strong, but they need our support here in Australia—prisoners of conscience that every day are persecuted alongside their families. It was only a few weeks ago I attended a community candlelit vigil in Inala to pray for those suffering in Vietnam today.

So, today, I acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful community that I represent and the Vietnamese Australians right across this country, who have given so much to Australia. But today I pledge to keep fighting for the Vietnamese people in my community, in Australia and in Vietnam.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Laundy ): Is the motion seconded?