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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 December 2016) . . Page.. 77 ..


Motion (by Mr Gentleman) agreed to:

That the Members so nominated be appointed as members of the general purpose standing committees of the Ninth Assembly.

Inaugural speeches

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (4.04), by leave: Packing up your bags, holding the hands of two young daughters, leaving behind your family and friends to start a new life in a country halfway across the world—that is the journey that my parents took in 1986 when I was seven and my sister Rosa was five; because it is about courage, the courage to reach out beyond what you know for the chance to create something better.

My parents took great care in preparing us for the move to Australia. They decorated our bedroom with wallpaper containing the English alphabet. Each night my sister and I would hold hands and sing the alphabet song finishing off with “Mama good night” and “Papa good night.” We settled into a house with my uncle who is here today who had migrated to Australia many years ago. It was a little fibro place at the back of a main house in Merrylands, western Sydney. Australia was like another world.

My first year at school must have been daunting. But looking back now I do not remember the days of not understanding what the teacher was saying or not being able to communicate with my classmates, although there must have been many moments like these. What I do remember is the kindness of our neighbours, inviting us to celebrate our first summer Christmas by the pool, which was so unfamiliar to us; taking us on fishing trips to Wollongong; lending Rosa a dress for her Holy Communion because mum and dad had not understood the school newsletter.

My parents took some English lessons but because he had a family to feed, my father worked as an excavator in the construction industry very soon after we arrived in Australia. In his job as an excavator it did not matter that dad did not understand what his work colleagues were saying. He could do the job and he could do it well. Leaving behind your family and friends, not knowing the people, language or the culture in your new home, two young daughters to feed, starting a new life in a country where no-one else looks like you: that is the life that my parents started in 1986, because it is about courage, the courage to do what is right, not what is easy.

Madam Assistant Speaker, I was born in Kwang Ju, Korea. My parents chose to leave behind a comfortable life in Korea for a new start in Australia because they wanted better opportunities for us. Australia was where this opportunity lay, a country where everyone has access to health care and education, not just those who could afford it; a country where age, gender, race or sexual orientation are no barrier to achieving your goals if you just give it a go; a country where my youngest sister Sara was born; the country that my family calls home.

I moved to Canberra as an 18 year old and grew to love this great city. Canberra is where I became an ANU law student, a group fitness instructor, a lawyer, an academic. Canberra is where I became a parliamentarian and Canberra is where I became who I


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