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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9290

Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (16:04): Recently I had the pleasure of attending and addressing the Uruguayan-Australian cultural community during their celebrations of Uruguay's independence day. I was particularly pleased on this day to see the new president of the Uruguayan Social Club, Mr Idilio Suero, and vice-president, Mary Touron, as well as many committee members. It is important to celebrate these occasions, not only to reflect upon the sacrifices of those who fought for that independence but as a reminder to us all that democracy is precious, something we must never take lightly and that we must guard and protect for the future. With so many democracies around the world in flux at the moment, Uruguayans can take pride in the fact that over the past three decades their country has become one of South America's leading democracies.

This independence day, marking 30 years since those first national elections returning Uruguay to democracy, gave even more meaning to that simple fact. Uruguayans have taken this democracy and created one of the most culturally progressive countries in South America—one that celebrates cultural diversity. It is one where new approaches to complex problems are welcomed and where the many different cultures that make up the Uruguayan national identity are encouraged and not dismissed. Australia's multicultural community allows our nation to benefit from the best of all the world's cultures. Uruguayans' passion for democracy—a hard-earned passion—is something we can all learn from. The Uruguayan community has contributed to our society in so many different ways for the past 100 years, and they are an invaluable part of Australian history and culture. I should also note that those of us in Melbourne's west are proud that we can call the first Uruguayan-born member of an Australian parliament, Mr Telmo Languiller, one of our own. I greatly appreciate the work of the Uruguayan community in my electorate. I know that we will continue to look to Uruguay as a source of democratic inspiration for many years to come.