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Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is significant to be in the presence of so many notable individuals at this evening’s dinner.
The involvement and attendance of so many officials and community leaders is a testament to the vital impact and importance of the work done by the Foshan Association of Australia.
I congratulate Amen Lee on his three-year term of service and his role in founding the organisation. Mr. Lee has founded and presided over a significant new era in bilateral relations between Foshan City and our national community. I also welcome and congratulate Brenda Chen on her incoming term as President of this outstanding organisation.
As the Federal Member for Barton, I am always impressed by the vibrancy and diversity of my electorate and others like it. Australian communities have cause to be proud of the way we live together in peace and camaraderie. We also have cause to be proud of the colour and life that ethnic communities bring to the area.
In particular, Sino-Australian art, music, and literature have greatly enriched our cultural landscape. The Foshan Association has always held a pivotal role in popularising and expanding awareness of this ancient culture.
Chinese culture is such a major component of my local area and I am sure we would all agree that the cultural gifts brought to the Australian community by Chinese migrants have become indispensable to our way of life as a diverse, interesting and prosperous nation. The ethos and values of the Chinese community – resourcefulness, diligence, kindness and humility – have enriched our area.
As Member for Barton, a mayor for six years and a councillor for fourteen, I have enjoyed a longstanding friendship with the Chinese community. My friendship has extended beyond the Chinese-Australian community to the People’s Republic of China itself.
It was my privilege as Mayor to preside over a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Kogarah and the District of Shunde, a beautiful and populous district of Foshan City at the heart of the Pearl River Delta. It was by virtue of this Memorandum that Kogarah and Shunde became Sister Cities in 2010. This relationship is representative of the close ties that bind Australia and the People’s Republic of China together, and especially indicative of a great deal of respect and interaction between the City of Foshan and our local area.
Foshan City itself and Townsville, Queensland have been sister cities for almost twenty years.
As the Federal member for Barton, I am proud that our two great nations have forged these strong links, and that the Chinese migrant community within our area has been able to retain and share with others the relationship they have with their original homeland.
I thank and congratulate the Foshan Association of Australia for the work they have done over three significant years.