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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2458 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

this time, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of a few people from the Vietnamese community who have come along today because they feel fairly strongly about this issue.

While they may be reasonably small in number, I think that it is good that Thuy, Belinda, Dzung and somebody else whom I have not yet had the privilege of meeting have come along in the middle of the day, taking time out of their normal daily routine to do so, because this is an issue about which the Vietnamese community in Australia feels incredibly strongly.

The recent Social and Demographic Profile of Multicultural Canberra tells us that there are 156,581 people of Vietnamese ancestry in Australia, with 2,656 of them residing in Canberra. It should be remembered that these figures do not include their Australian-born children.

Trung Doan, who is the president of the Vietnamese community in Australia, has visited me to discuss the stateless Vietnamese living in the Philippines. The situation is often written about in our Vietnamese-language press and Trung tells me that it is something the entire Vietnamese community in Australia is familiar with.

There are thousands of Australians who feel strongly about such immigration issues. Mr Speaker, as you know and as will probably be discussed again in the next motion, World Refugee Day was celebrated on 20 June, just last week, with marches and rallies in cities across Australia and the world. I know that you were speaking at one such event on Friday, Mr Speaker.

This year's World Refugee Day was dedicated to young people. In his official message, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "Millions of young people have been affected by war, hatred and exile. Let us reaffirm our commitment to saving future generations from growing up without hope."

Today, members of the Legislative Assembly can commit to the United Nations message by supporting my motion. As a local government, it is our job to express our support for the stateless Vietnamese living in the Philippines. We should acknowledge that the federal government has recognised the problem by providing visas to those stateless Vietnamese with close relatives in Australia and we should urge the federal government to move quickly to provide visas to the remaining people with relatives in Australia.


(Leader of the Opposition) (12.04): Mr Speaker, the opposition will support the motion with one small amendment. I will get to that in a moment

It is pleasing to see members of the Vietnamese community here today, and I certainly welcome them, because this is an important issue. I do not think that any of us can imagine what it would be like to be stateless. It sounds almost odd and it is hard to conceive, but it does happen in the world today. The plight of the 2,000 Vietnamese people who are now stateless in the Philippines is something that we really should consider.

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