Photo: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
THE HON DAVID COLEMAN MP, MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION, CITIZENSHIP & MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS: All right well good afternoon everyone and welcome to our lunch here with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Thank you very much for joining us. I’m David Coleman, the Federal Member for Banks and the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.
The PM and I have just been chatting with people in Hurstville in small business, talking to people who employ so many Australians. You know, Hurstville is a tremendous success story of the success of immigrants investing in the future of Australia. There are so many people employed in the Hurstville area and so many of those people are employed by Australians of Chinese background who have come to Australia, who have invested, who have worked so hard to create those economic opportunities. Today in our group, we have representatives of so many of our local organisations, our non-profit social services organisations, a number of our artistic and musical groups, a number of our local religious leaders and so many other people who have come together to make this such a special community.
I’m so fortunate to have the region of the Hurstville area in my electorate and to represent such a diverse and fantastic community. In my new role as the Minister, I am so keen to talk about the great success stories of multicultural Australia. You know, we have about 1.4 million people in Australia who are employed in businesses that were started by a migrant, which is a fantastic success story. About one in three small businesses were started by somebody who has immigrated to Australia. Our multiculturalism makes us stronger, it is one of our great success stories. We should be very proud of it, we should celebrate it and it is great to have the PM in Hurstville today to meet with you all. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison.
PRIME MINISTER: Nǐ hǎo.
It’s great to be here with you today, particularly to be here with my friend David Coleman, who not only serves in the Ministry, but has been my neighbour here in Banks. I’m in the electorate of Cook, just across the river. Well it’s all across the river now as part of this council area Georges River Council also takes in the seat of Cook these days. But it’s wonderful to be here with you all today.
After I became Prime Minister some weeks back, I said that I wanted to keep Australia’s economy strong so we could deliver and guarantee the essential services that all Australians rely on. I said that I wanted to keep Australians safe, whether it was in the classroom and keeping our children free from bullying, or the broader threats of international terrorism and these things that all countries these days must deal with. I also said that I want to keep Australians together. Bringing all Australians together, acknowledging all the many different parts and contributions that are made to make our country stronger. I said if we do these three things - we keep Australia strong and our economy strong, we keep Australians safe and we keep Australians together - we will build an even stronger Australia than the one we have today.
I’m very pleased to be here today to acknowledge the contribution of the Chinese national Australian community to that story of making Australia stronger, which has been happening for a very long time over our history. It hasn’t always been the case that, I think, Chinese Australians, those who have come here from China over hundreds of years, have had it easy. And it wasn’t always the case that that contribution was acknowledged. The investment, the businesses, the hard work, the enterprise, the families, the education, cultural contributions, it wasn’t always the case. I think it’s great today that we live in an Australia that is, increasingly. But there is more to do.
One of the things I often like talking about, particularly around the time of Chinese New Year, is that just used to be a celebration within the Chinese Australian community. Now it’s a celebration of the entire Australian community, wherever you go around that time of year. It doesn’t matter whether people have come from a Chinese background or not, they celebrate it. It’s become part of Australia’s cultural calendar and it has taken on, I think, a very Aussie, a very Australian element to it. I think that speaks volumes about the contribution that has been made over many, many years.
There are 1.2 million Australians who identify as having Chinese ancestry here in Australia today. They are larger than any other people of non-Anglo Saxon background in the country today and we cherish all of their contributions, in all its facets. It enriches us and we are better and we are stronger as a nation for it. We’re also able to recognise the genuineness of Chinese-Australian commitment in the pages of our history; from our own battles as Australians in the theatres of war, through to our sporting achievements. The grandson of one of Australia’s first Chinese migrants, John Joseph Shying was the first Chinese-Australian serviceman serving in the Colonial Military Forces in the 1885 Anglo-Sudan War. Thereafter, Chinese Australians served in World Wars I and II, in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m told the Goldfields Leagues that kicked off in Ballarat on August 26, 1892 included two Cantonese teams – the Miners and the Gardeners – gave birth to a golden decade of hotly-contested AFL matches and spread to Bendigo, Eaglehawk and Geelong. Those pioneering links with this very Australian code, the AFL as we know it today, carry through to today with Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns teams recently playing before packed-out crowds in Shanghai. And Kochie, who I’m sure you all know from Sunrise in the morning, I saw at the AFL Grand Final and he was introducing me to people at the AFL Grand Final, had been very involved and supportive of seeing that representation, that celebration, of Australian life up in Shanghai.
Ladies and gentlemen, this afternoon, I want to affirm as Prime Minister that Australia will always, always welcome Chinese students, investors and visitors to our country, supporting our national interest. This is such a great driver of jobs in our nation. Trade, tourism and student numbers are at record highs. Total trade reaching $183 billion and Chinese student numbers eclipsing 184,000 last year. Chinese visitor numbers now hitting 1.4 million in 2017/18. Now when I started work in the tourism industry several decades ago, there weren’t that many total visitors to Australia, from countries all around the world. Today, Chinese citizens coming to Australia on holidays eclipses that number at 1.4 million.
So I can’t stress this enough; China, as the most populous nation in our region and our largest trading partner, is important to Australia. We welcome its’ remarkable success and we are committed – absolutely committed – to the long-term constructive partnership with China based on shared values, especially mutual respect. We believe in the prosperity of our region and the prosperity of our region depends on these increasingly strong and connected ties.
Our Government is strongly committed to working closely with China’s leaders to advance our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This is very important to us, because it’s the unique partnership that provides an invaluable framework for progressing our mutual and complementary interests. In September last year, as Treasurer I visited China for the bilateral Strategic Economic Dialogue, which was part of that partnership framework. And I am relishing further opportunities for engagement that are ahead. We have the East Asia Summit coming up, APEC and of course, the G20 Summit all to take place before the year’s end.
Now Australia and China won’t always agree on everything, we have different systems, different national interests and we have different concerns from time to time. Naturally enough, that will lead to different views, from time to time. But this is what is so crucial; that we manage these divergences constructively, in the spirit of this Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, guided by the principles of equality and our deep and abiding mutual respect and in the interest of the prosperity of our region where we all live. Because and above all, we are acutely aware of the strong fundamentals that we share; our deep-rooted economic, institutional and community links and particularly when we talk about education, when we talk about cultural exchange, when we talk about the people-to-people visitor exchanges. The connections between our peoples will always run even deeper, always run deeper and that provides the platform for the broad partnership that we share with China.
It’s in our two countries’ interests to have a strong relationship because we both benefit. And yet, there remains so much potential to take our relationship even further. Bilaterally on law enforcement, resources and energy including our LNG expansion, agribusiness, services, new technologies in the medical, biotech, and environmental spheres, investment, research and development and innovation. Internationally, working together to promote regional stability and development. To combat protectionism and address environmental challenges and natural disasters.
Now as Prime Minister, your Prime Minister, I am determined to build on the respectful, mutual cooperation that has forged such strong cultural rapport and led to the heights of economic success for both Australia and China over many years.
Now all of that, what I have spoken about, is represented here in our local community here in southern Sydney. It’s particularly represented here in Hurstville. My wife grew up not far from here over in Peakhurst, went to Peakhurst High School. This is where, when we were young people and those days are behind me, but nevertheless this is where we would come, up to Hurstville many, many years ago. We’ve seen this community grow in confidence and strength. As I walked down the street on Forest Road this morning, it was just so pleasing to see the investment and the thriving community, business community that it has become, here in Hurstville. It’s great to see as David said, 1.4 million Australians working in businesses that have been started by migrants. Migrants that have come to this country to make a contribution, not take one. And what a contribution you have been making. I really want to acknowledge that contribution today with the best way I can put it – xièxiè.