Page 406 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (4.00): I am pleased to speak in the Assembly today on this matter of public importance—the importance of the Lunar New Year and the various communities who celebrate it, and what it means to us.

Multiculturalism in Canberra and across Australia is strong. Australia is blessed with a relatively bipartisan multicultural view—tripartisan, essentially, in this place—that political parties across Australia together celebrate the rich and ancient cultures that make Australia the great nation that it is. In Canberra, we are committed to working with the Greens-Labor government to ensure that the diverse cultures that make Canberra great and the people of these great cultures are proud of their cultural origin and proud of being Australian. Communities in Canberra must feel comfortable about their ethnic background and the new perspectives this brings to us. The cultural practices the faith communities and the cultural communities have brought to Australia teach us so much and teach us something as we go along, complementing and enriching our community in most instances.

For the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities in particular, the Lunar New Year is a very important event which celebrates their rich tradition and culture. Across the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities, celebrations are characterised by preparing one’s home to be clean and welcoming for the event; family gatherings and feasts; special greetings, wishing health and prosperity; a focus on respecting elders and gaining their wisdom; prayer for ancestors and visiting at grave sites; the settlement of debts and disputes; fireworks, dances and noisy celebrations to ward off evil spirits; gifts of money in red envelopes; decorations, also often red; resolutions for the new year; and new clothing and special foods.

The Lunar New Year is based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar, occurring in late January or early February each year; it is the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and is also called the spring festival. For Chinese communities, it began on 28 January this year, with celebrations commencing in the evening. Celebrations last 15 days. It is the most important holiday of the year in the Chinese culture.

For the Chinese community, January 2017 also ushers in the year of the rooster from the Chinese zodiac. In traditional Chinese culture, the rooster symbolises being observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous, confident, honest and talkative. Babies born in the year of the rooster are highly celebrated, and it is thought that they will be self-starters, naturally evolving their own efficient modes of operation. Self-discipline seems to come naturally, apparently, to them, and they are not shy about expressing their opinions. Maybe the roosters would make good politicians. A rooster baby is determined, and not even wild horses could drag them away from their aim.

Historically, Chinese have enriched the Australian community since the mid-19th century. The gold rush, which commenced in 1853, saw a huge influx of Chinese migrants. Chinese ancestry was claimed by over 800,000 Australian residents in the 2011 census; it was the seventh most common ancestry in Australia. China currently is the third-highest country of birth for Australian residents, being about two

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