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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13990


Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (16:37): Australia is home to nearly 300,000 Vietnamese Australians, and each one of them has a unique Australian story—stories of sacrifice to give their children a better shot at life than they had, long hours and hard work to grow small businesses and educate the next generation of doctors, lawyers, teachers, leaders and entrepreneurs. I am proud that, under a Labor Shorten government, each of these stories will get told at Australia's first Vietnamese Cultural Centre and Museum. If elected, a Shorten Labor government will invest $4.4 million to support the construction of the museum in Footscray, in my electorate. This commitment matches the contribution of the Daniel Andrews Labor government announced with the state member for Footscray, Katie Hall, last year, and it builds on the contributions and support from many local community members and the City of Maribyrnong.

The museum will become a place for the Vietnamese-Australian community to collect, preserve and exhibit their culture, history and identity as a reminder and example of Australia's successful multicultural society. The museum will celebrate the contribution of the Vietnamese-Australian community to our society, so visible in the social fabric of my electorate. The Vietnamese-Australian community has transformed Melbourne's west into a vibrant multicultural hub, enriching our society and our local identity.

This museum will celebrate the new ideas and innovations in the Vietnamese community that have strengthened our businesses, our hospitals, our schools, our cuisine, our literature and our culture. From the museum, we will learn about the values revered in the Vietnamese-Australian community—values like hard work, the pursuit of excellence, and community and familial obligation.

The museum has been a goal for the Vietnamese community in Australia since 2002. Almost two decades later, they are almost there. Frankly, they shouldn't have to wait longer. The Morrison federal government should listen to the 300,000 Vietnamese Australians in our community and commit to funding this museum now. They should listen to the Victorian chapter of the VCA, ably supported by the state chapters in New South Wales and Queensland in this campaign—and other chapters. They should listen to members of the Dual Identity Leadership Program, who I've been proud to work with in recent weeks to collect 11,000 signatures calling for the federal government to contribute funding to this museum. They need to listen to Phuong Nguyen, the former VCA president, who has championed this project; to Bon Nguyen, the national VCA president; and to Viv Nguyen, the Victoria VCA president. They should listen to Bishop Long Nguyen and the Venerable Thich Phuoc Tan, who have spent almost two decades of their lives advocating for this museum.

This is a museum that will be a legacy for all Australians, not just Vietnamese-Australians, because it tells an Australian story. Come on, Prime Minister, let's get this museum built. Match Labor's commitment to the Vietnamese cultural museum and let's get to work.