SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MULTICULTURAL BILL

Extracted from Hansard - House of Assembly 18 March 2021

I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak on the South Australian Multicultural Bill 2020. Australia is a nation built on multiculturalism—from our First Nations people, who are our oldest living continuous culture, to welcoming new migrants into our communities and generations who now call Australia home. It is one of the greatest duties as a local member of parliament to attend citizenship ceremonies, as many people in this house have reflected. It is such a wonderful occasion and such a significant time for new citizens to become Australians.

After extensive consultation, the Marshall Liberal government has introduced the South Australian Multicultural Bill, which will replace the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Act and build stronger and more vibrant multicultural communities. The bill modernises the language used to refer to multiculturalism and reforms the current multicultural commission, with the main changes being the removal of the term 'ethnic' and the introduction of the concept of interculturalism.

The bill requires the development of the multiculturalism charter, which will lay a foundation for the development of future government policies and better services for our community. It reaffirms the importance of multiculturalism to South Australia and reasserts our government's commitment to continue to serve and deliver for the contemporary South Australian multicultural community.

I would like to thank the assistant minister to the Premier, the Hon. Jing Lee in the other place, who has put so much work and tireless effort not only into this bill but into the multicultural community since she was first elected in 2010. If anybody follows her on Facebook, they would see the amazing number of multicultural events, tours of parliament and meetings with dignitaries that Jing attends.

She is such a very good role model not only for hard work but also for the importance of engaging will all our multicultural communities. It is through Jing that many of us have met so many new people and have a much better understanding of the great work and the importance of our multicultural communities.

I believe that the first bill was introduced under the Liberal Tonkin government, and so some 40 years later I am very proud to be part of a government that is updating this to reflect our true changes and advancements we have in our multiculturalism in South Australia, which I think could be held up as an exemplar of what multiculturalism can achieve in a harmonious way when we all get on and we all work together so well. It is a wonderful achievement.

As the member for Adelaide, I am very fortunate that there are many multicultural associations, societies and groups that do amazing work not only supporting new migrants from their home country, assimilating and joining in with all the multicultural events but also informing others from other cultures about their music, their foods, their culture, their religion and their history. It is such a great way of sharing and learning, and as we know understanding each other is how you breed harmony and peace.

Some of the groups I would like to recognise in my community include Bund der Bayern, and its Oktober is Over is one of the regular events in my electorate, as well as the Adelaide Tamil Association and their Pongal Harvest Festival. I have been to many of those. They are fantastic. The food is lovely and it represents the beginning of the harvest. I have also engaged in some of the art works, which are also amazing.

Also, we have Amazing India held by the Kalalaya School of Indian Performing Arts. Recently, we had the unveiling of the Vietnamese boat people monument, which is amazing, and I would recommend anybody to look at that on the Riverbank just opposite the parade grounds. It is a wonderful monument recognising the contribution of the Vietnamese boat people.

Also, recently there was the Chinatown Lunar New Year street party, which was very fortunate to have gone ahead just before the beginning of COVID lockdowns in 2020. It went back to pretty much normal this year, of course, with the QR codes and all the safety precautions. Unfortunately, the Tet Festival did not go ahead this year, however that is another wonderful event with the Vietnamese community celebrating the Lunar New Year.

We also have the annual Mela Festival, which went ahead recently in Victoria Square. There is Indofest for the Indonesian Association. Of course, we just heard about the Blessing of the Waters for the Greek Orthodox community held both in Glenelg and Henley Beach each year. We have the Glendi Festival, Carnevale for the Italian community, Bastille Day for the French and the Eid Festival signifying the end of Ramadan celebrated by Muslim communities.

In addition, we have the Korean Festival, and I have been to many, as well as the Diwali Festival celebrated by the Sri Lankans. I have been to Tongan celebrations, and of course yesterday being St Patrick's Day there was not the usual street parties and parades; however, I am sure there will be again next year, and that is another very significant day.

South Australia, as we know, is known as the City of Churches and that shows our compassion, empathy and understanding of differences in religion to start with, but now also through different cultures and ethnic backgrounds Adelaide is really such an amazing place because of the way we have done that. I love the idea of interculturalism, where cultures all mix and mingle, learn from each other and understand, and that breeds tolerance, which is very, very important. I commend this bill to the house.