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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 60

Mr VARVARIS (Barton) (13:43): This year, 2015, is the new year of the green or wooden sheep in the Chinese zodiac—a symbol of empathy, tranquillity and peacefulness, coupled with a strong sense of justice and stability. Spiritually, Chinese New Year is also associated with the renewal of life, the chance of a revival and righting any wrongs. The celebration of Chinese New Year is to wish for wellness, good health, wealth and longevity. The idea of starting things afresh involves a ritual of cleaning one's home to sweep away negativity and misfortune, and uniting with family and friends for dinner to turn over a new leaf.

The celebration of the lunar calendar is prominent in Chinese populations all over the world, particularly those who hail from mainland China, Hong Kong and Southern China—some of Australia's first Chinese migrants. As the member for Barton, Chinese culture and civilisation makes up a significant portion of my electorate. I am very proud of the fact that I have enjoyed a longstanding friendship with the Chinese community that manifested in my role as mayor and councillor for Kogarah City Council. I am further privileged to be able to represent the Chinese community in Barton in a federal capacity.

As Australia becomes increasingly multicultural, it is not uncommon to see major shopping centres, supermarkets and local businesses hanging up Chinese celebrations and greetings. The ethos, values and camaraderie of the Chinese community certainly enrich our society and contribute to furthering our nation for the better. I wish the Chinese community a happy and healthy year of the sheep.