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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 296

Mr GILES (Scullin) (11:01): On Saturday I had the very great pleasure of attending the Whittlesea Chinese association and the Hoi Phu Nu Trung Vuong Vung Whittlesea Vietnamese women's group celebration at the lunar new year, the year of the horse, at the Thomastown recreation and aquatic centre, along with my friend Lily D'Ambrosio, the member for Mill Park in the state parliament, and councillors Mary Lalios and Kris Pavlidis. I give particular thanks for the chief organiser of that event, Albert Yu, president of the Whittlesea Chinese Association, for inviting me on behalf of that association, and for his generosity of spirit.

In Scullin the Whittlesea Chinese Association organises various social and cultural activities, including dances, birthday celebrations, Chinese cultural activities, arts and craft and singing, and makes a great contribution to the wider community. Similarly, the Vietnamese women's group, and the senior citizens group as well, play important roles in building up social and cultural connections in a large and vibrant Vietnamese community in Scullin. I acknowledge the work of Trihn Nguyen, Regina Leung-Hining and the president of the Vietnamese women's group, Nhan Phan, as well as Thomas Lim, in bringing together this important celebration of the lunar new year.

The multiculturalism in Melbourne's north is a great source of pride to our community and to me. Saturday's event showed this at its best, and it is very significant the two communities that both mark the lunar new year were able to come together to celebrate this important occasion, bringing together their traditions. They in turn involved others, from Bollywood to line dancing, in celebrating this event. The event was well managed by Flora Yeh and Vivian Wong, and I would like to thank the many performers for their evocative renditions of Chinese and Vietnamese classics to bring in the new year in a colourful and friendly manner.

I also wish to pay tribute to someone who was not there; Arthur Yong, an indefatigable fighter for social justice and an announcer on Plenty Valley FM, with his own show, where he discusses issues of interest to Chinese Australians. Arthur has been unwell lately so I wish him a speedy recovery, and I look forward to appearing on his radio show again soon.

Scullin has a growing Chinese and Vietnamese community who make a valuable contribution to our society, and I want to do all that I can to represent them effectively in this place. The organisers of the new years event note in their program that horses pursue their freedom, passion and leadership, and that the Chinese would not let the horse work in the farm. Instead, farmland jobs go to the ox, because the Chinese have higher expectations of horses. In the interests of full disclosure, I point out that I was born in the year of the ox. Despite this, I will try to make the best in the farmyard of politics, and have higher expectations of the horses and the oxen amongst us.

I continue to be struck by the commitment to community on show at this and other events I have attended as a member of parliament, and I celebrate the tireless efforts of the many volunteers who brought this wonderful effort and these great communities together.