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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 957

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (22:16): Last Saturday night, I was proud to attend a dinner with Brisbane's southside Chinese community to celebrate the completion of the Chinese-Australian war memorial and bursary program. I have the flyer here. The memorial stands proudly in the Garden of Remembrance at the home of the Sunnybank RSL in Gager Street. It is a fitting tribute to our Australian soldiers, sailors and air men and women of Chinese descent. The memorial honours the service and sacrifice of Australian-Chinese service personnel.

When the Prime Minister inspected the memorial last year, she described Griffith University architecture student Sarah Batchelor's design as 'simple beauty'. As Prime Minister Gillard said, it will prompt reflection and gratitude. It recognises diggers like Billy Sing and Caleb Shang, who fought in the First World War, and Jack Wong Sue, who served Australia in World War II—to mention but a few of thousands who served.

I have told the House before about the courage of Private Billy Sing, who attested to the old Chinese proverb 'kill one man, terrorise a thousand'. He was a roo shooter from Proserpine who became a sniper with the Australian 5th Light Horse Regiment and is conservatively credited with more than 150 enemy soldiers killed in Gallipoli. It is easy to see why he was known to his fellow soldiers as 'the Assassin'. Private Sing was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for 'conspicuous gallantry as a sniper at Anzac'.

This memorial and the continuing bursaries honour all those of Chinese heritage who have served their country in times of peace and in war and those who continue to do so now. The RSL and Chinese community established a bursary program to help educate local southside students about the Australian-Chinese service personnel in our armed services. For years to come, they will help tell the stories of our veterans to a new generation.

The memorial has been a labour of love and sacrifice for my Chinese community and has helped build stronger links between the local RSL and the broader community. Chinese community leaders like Lewis Lee, Ralph Seeto, Jesse Chee, Douglas Ng, Adam Lo, Peter Low and many others have given much time and energy to bring this about, as have Sunnybank RSL representatives Robert Lippiatt and Reg Walls and the current president, Brian Ryan, who was formerly of the RAAF. These volunteers have shown what can be achieved when communities focus on what we have in common rather than what divides us.

When I first proposed this idea in my first speech to parliament back on Wednesday, 20 February 2008, I never imagined what could be achieved. It is more than just erecting a stainless steel memorial; it is also about helping to heal and help a community. To see the RSL and the Chinese community standing side by side to open a war memorial which honours the service of Chinese Australians, many of whom were not actually citizens or allowed to be citizens at the time, shows how far we have come since the 'Night of Broken Glass' which rocked Brisbane back in 1888. That night was born out of fear and mistrust in a different time, and thankfully we live in a different Australia today. This Chinese war memorial is a mark of the diversity, cooperation, understanding and friendship that is alive and well on Brisbane's south side. That is why next week I will meet with the Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Helen Szoke; Chinese community representatives; and the RSL. We will reflect on what has been achieved in establishing this memorial. I am very much looking forward to showing the commissioner some of the tastes and sights of my electorate, which has the best restaurants in Australia and is Queensland's real Chinatown.

Now that the memorial and the project have been signed off and celebrated, I now look forward to working with the south-side community, particularly the Chinese and Taiwanese communities, and local and state governments to help construct an iconic landmark over Mains Road in my electorate, not far from my electorate office. In this particular lunar year I can think of nothing more appropriate than a big, red dragon.