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CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS – Bennelong Electorate: Korean Community

24 June 2013

 

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (10:54): I rise to discuss racism and, in particular, to draw attention to experiences of the Korean community in my electorate of Bennelong. A few months ago, a Sydney man, Mr Kim, and his Korean aunt were racially taunted on a Sydney bus. They described it as a very traumatic experience and Mr Kim said it was not the first time he had been racially abused in Australia. Similar stories have made headlines both here and in Korea. After several racial attacks on foreign students in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane late last year, the Yonhap News Agency ran media reports in Korea labelling Australia a racist country.

Australia has grown into a mature and enlightened country where it is not good enough to just tolerate differences in culture. Instead, we now celebrate and champion the different cultures which have become such a part of the enrichment of Australian life and which help to define our nation. It is because Australia has now established itself as a champion multicultural country that incidents of racism raise such alarm—and serve to remind us to maintain our vigilance and absolute intolerance of such behaviour. This was highlighted in emphatic terms recently by the courageous actions of Sydney Swans player Adam Goodes, who refused to accept the racist taunt shouted by a young spectator. Embracing diversity comes through education, most importantly for our young, and experience.

The table tennis program I was able to introduce, thanks to the generosity of Hyundai Australia, into schools in Bennelong aims to bring together students of different cultures to play, engage and bridge cultural boundaries. This program has been a great success and led to some great scenes at ELS Hall in North Ryde last year, as students of different backgrounds, ages and sizes came together to laugh, learn, make new friends and have fun. The program also saw the Korean and Chinese national teams come to Australia and play in the Great Hall of parliament. Australia’s friendship with both countries furthered their friendship with each other.

As the federal member for Bennelong, I take seriously my role to lead our community down the path of conciliation and respect for all people. Victor Dominello often quotes the poignant Korean proverb: a great river never refuses small streams. All the streams bring new nutrients which make the river richer and stronger. The river provides safety and direction to the streams. Australia is that river that welcomes streams from all cultures.

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