Page 407 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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per cent of the population. This is also true in the ACT, for just over 6,500 people, 1.8 per cent of the population.

Last month I was pleased to attend a Chinese new year festival hosted by the Chinese community at the Burns Club, and I thank them for inviting me. It was good to see the elderly celebrated in the same room as babies. There were four generations in one room. Those who attended the event were treated with singing from greatly respected and long-serving members of the Chinese community. I would like to acknowledge HSBC, which supported the event and do so faithfully every year. I would also like to make special mention of those who organised the event. Events like these are really important to the people of the ACT, to be able to encounter their culture of origin and to celebrate the cultures of others.

For the Vietnamese community, the Lunar New Year is called tet, meaning the feast of the first morning of the first day, and is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture as it is seen as the arrival of spring, which represents new life and new beginnings. The Vietnamese community in Australia were the first large group of Asian migrants when the Liberal Party ended the white Australia policy in 1973. Vietnamese ancestry was claimed by over 170,000 Australian residents in the 2006 census. Vietnam is currently the fifth-highest country of birth for Australian residents, and this is also true in the ACT, at almost 3,000.

The Lunar New Year is also a very important holiday for Koreans. Until the mid-20th century, Korea was primarily an agricultural society, and the seasonal rhythms of daily life were organised by the lunar calendar. As a society where farming was hugely important for the subsistence of its members, it developed a great variety of semi-religious and religious events where prayers were offered for a good harvest and abundant food, which gradually developed into communal celebrations and festivals. In Australia, Korean ancestry was claimed by almost 89,000 Australian residents in the 2011 census, and Korea is the 14th highest country of birth for ACT residents, at just over 1,500 people. In particular, Madam Assistant Speaker Lee was born in that country.

The Lunar New Year for the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities is an opportunity to take stock and reflect on new beginnings; our Australian culture benefits from learning from these celebrations to also take stock and reflect on new beginnings. The Lunar New Year reminds us all of new beginnings and that they can come with opportunities to change ourselves. All people benefit from coming together and reflecting on the year ahead, taking stock of what was, letting go of what was not necessary and looking forward to beginning anew.

Not only have we celebrated the Lunar New Year, but this weekend, in a spirit of welcome and celebration, Canberrans will come together to celebrate all cultures through the Multicultural Festival. This festival was started in 1996 by the then Liberal Chief Minister, Kate Carnell. The festival is Canberra’s biggest celebration of many different faiths, cultures and ethnicities in Canberra. I have attended each festival since my election in 2012, and before, and on each occasion I have been impressed with the sense of pride in each community’s belief and culture, as well as their pride in being Canberran and Australian.

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