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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Page: 1077

Mr DREYFUS (9:38 AM) —Today I want to wish all Australians who celebrate the lunar new year a happy and prosperous Year of the Tiger. The Year of the Tiger is the third year of the 12-year cycle of the lunar calendar. The tiger symbolises strength, courage and fight. 2010 promises to be a happy, prosperous and healthy year, and I wish the very best of luck to everyone who was born a tiger.

Last Sunday I was in Springvale to celebrate the Chinese Lunar Festival, which was, as always, fantastically organised by the Springvale Asian Business Association and attended by thousands of people from our local community and across Melbourne. I congratulate the new president of SABA, Mr Frankie Chen, on the successful event, especially given the challenges his organisation faced in holding the event in an area which is currently a construction site.

This Saturday I will be celebrating the Tet Festival with the Vietnamese community at the Sandown racecourse in Springvale, as the guest of the Victorian chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia. I congratulate Mr Kevin Tran and Mr Hung Chau, who are organising this large, important and very enjoyable display of Vietnamese traditions and culture. As in past years, the festival will no doubt be attended by thousands of Vietnamese from across Victoria and by many other Australians who enjoy Vietnamese culture. I would also like to pay tribute to Mr Phong Nguyen, the new national president of the Vietnamese Community in Australia as well as Mr Bon Nguyen, who took over from Phong Nguyen as president of the Victorian chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia. Their tireless work helps make the Vietnamese community one of the most vibrant and important in our local community.

This year marks a special occasion for the many Vietnamese Australians celebrating 35 years of Vietnamese immigration to this country. Following the Vietnam War, thousands of mostly South Vietnamese fled their country in the hope of finding a better way of life and the most highly valued personal right: freedom. The Vietnamese community in Australia are rightly proud of their cultural heritage and traditions. I am proud that our country has embraced the Vietnamese community and their culture and, in turn, the Vietnamese community have embraced Australia.

When I celebrated the Tet Festival at Sandown on 7 February last year in 47-degree heat no-one knew the horror that was then unfolding in other parts of Victoria. We did not know that 7 February was to become known as Black Saturday. Following the Black Saturday fires, the Vietnamese community raised about $1.3 million in donations towards those tragically affected by our worst natural disaster. On Saturday, the festival organisers are planning a minute of silence to remember those who perished just over a year ago and to show their sorrow and respect. Around 4,000 people with Vietnamese ancestry live in my electorate of Isaacs. I wish all of them and all other Australians a happy and safe lunar New Year.