Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1872

Mr HAYES (Fowler) (22:06): It is well believed that multiculturalism is one of Australia's greatest strengths. My electorate of Fowler is the most multicultural electorate in the whole of Australia and has thus given me the opportunity this year to enjoy more than one new year celebration. This year 23 January saw the celebration of the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year, the Year of the Dragon. Since more than 30 per cent of my electorate speak either Vietnamese or Chinese at home, you can imagine the size of the new year festivities in my area. The celebrations began in Cabramatta with the Lunar New Year Festival held over 14 and 15 January and ending at the beginning of February.

As a new member I wanted to do more than just read about the customs and traditions so I began my actions over the following days to immerse myself in the Asian culture. As I did last year, I visited 10 temples with Vietnamese and Chinese people as it is believed that this brings prosperity. I also attended mass with Father Paul Van Chi and Vietnamese Catholics at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. They gave me the opportunity to speak on that occasion on human rights.

On Saturday, 29 January, I had the pleasure of attending and representing the Prime Minister at the Vietnamese Community of Australia New South Wales chapter's opening ceremony at the annual Tet festival. My congratulations go to President Mr Thanh Nguyen as well as Internal Vice-President Dr Tien Nguyen and External Vice-President Mr Toan Nguyen on the fantastic festival showcasing Vietnamese traditions and culture. I also took three of my grandchildren to the Tet festival. They were quite excited to be taken there wearing traditional Vietnamese ao dai outfits for girls and boys which my wife had recently bought for them in Cabramatta.

I strongly believe the success of the event was due to the hard work of the VCA committee—who, I might add, are all volunteers. I congratulate Mr Thanh Nguyen on his re-election and look forward to continuing to work with him to serve our community in the south-west of Sydney. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr Tien Nguyen, a local doctor who practises in Cabramatta, as he has been chosen as a People of Australia Ambassador. Dr Tien's service to the community over the past couple of decades has been extraordinary.

During the opening ceremony for the Tet festival I spoke about a famous Vietnamese saying which a dear friend of mine, Dr Lieu Vinh Binh, had told me. The saying can be translated loosely as, 'When you eat the fruit you should have regard for those who planted the tree.' I reflected on the contribution the Vietnamese community have made over the past 36 years since the fall of Saigon. For a fairly newly arrived community, I am impressed with their achievement and humbled by their contributions. It was only 12 months ago that the Vietnamese community came together to raise funds for the Queensland flood appeal. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised by my community of Vietnamese Australians in the span of a couple of weeks.

Over the following few weeks I also had the pleasure of attending various Chinese New Year festivals. One was the Australian Chinese Teo-Chew Association. I extend my thanks to Chairman Frank Chou OAM as well as to the President and executive management committee member Hung Lee for their great work not only in what they do for the association but in what they do for the community in general.

I believe that the Vietnamese and Chinese New Year festivals are a time when they are able to showcase their traditions and their culture in a way that augments the diversity of our country. These festivals indicate those things that we hold dear. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to represent such a multicultural community in this parliament. I thank all the leaders for their attention to tolerance, inclusion and understanding as well as their commitment to sharing their culture and traditions with the broader community. In closing, I would like to wish everyone in this Year of the Dragon every happiness, success and prosperity.