Thu, 21 Mar 2024 - 16:39

Adjournment Debate - Multicultural Australia

I am proud to represent the electorate of Bradfield, which is a very diverse electorate, reflecting the fact that it is part of a nation which is very diverse. That diversity is demonstrated and manifested in many ways, including the extensive range of community festivals, events and celebrations. In recent months in Bradfield, we've celebrated Diwali in November and Chinese new year—the year of the dragon—in February, or Lunar new year. Persian new year was celebrated just yesterday, and Ramadan, of course, is currently under observation. We have had significant local events marking each of these important festivals in Bradfield. I want to particularly acknowledge Ku-ring-gai councillor Barbara Ward for her efforts in organising Diwali events. That's something that she's been doing for some time, and it is certainly appreciated by our local Indian Australian community.

In the electorate of Bradfield, according to the most recent census, 24.5 per cent of residents reported being of Chinese ancestry, 3. 4 per cent Indian, three per cent Korean and 1.4 per cent Persian. Bradfield is also home to the second largest Jewish community of all the New South Wales federal electorates, and it hosts a significant Armenian community, as well as communities from so many of the nations of our wide and diverse world.

Australia is a remarkable multicultural nation, and it is important that we maintain our harmony, our tolerance and our mutual respect, even when there are troubling events in the world which understandably engage very strong emotions from particular communities within Australia. Of course, there's a terrible conflict going on in Ukraine, and I want to acknowledge those people of Ukrainian origin who have chosen to take refuge in Australia and particularly in Bradfield. I have met a number of Ukrainian Australians. At the moment, they're on temporary visas, but I certainly hope at least some of them become Australian citizens should that be their choice. Of course, with a large Jewish community, there are many in Bradfield who are very troubled by the appalling terrorist attack that occurred in October last year. The Armenian community in Bradfield is also very concerned about the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The diversity of my electorate is very much reflective of the diversity, and the increasing diversity, of Australia. Our nation today is much more ethnically diverse than it was 50 years ago. It's interesting to look at the numbers as to where people are coming from, particularly the very strong presence in our immigration numbers of people from the two nations of the world that have populations of 1.4 billion: India and China, which until recently was the world's most populous country and which India has just overtaken. So those are the two countries that are at around 1.4 billion. It's not surprising, therefore, that both of those countries are strongly represented in the numbers in Australia.

But there has been a change over the years. In 2012, if you looked at the populations of people in Australia born in particular countries, at that time people born in England topped the list, with just over one million. Next was those born in New Zealand—569,000. Next was those born in China—406,000. Fourth largest was those born in India—355,000. That was the picture as at 2012. In the most recent numbers, from 2020, the English born still hold a narrow lead, at 961,000, but the Indian-born population now ranks second, at 753,000. The Chinese-born population are third, at 597,000.

All who come to Australia from around the world make a distinctive contribution, and our nation has certainly benefited from those who have come from around the world to make a better life for themselves and their families in this country. That is certainly true within my electorate of Bradfield, which, as I've argued, is in many ways a microcosm of modern Australia. The cultural diversity is something I very much welcome. I'm proud to represent such a diverse electorate, and I'm proud to have the chance to go to a number of festivals throughout the year, marking events of significance in particular communities.