Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE HINDU COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA: DIWALI CELEBRATION - MONDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2017

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Namaste, Sat Sri Akal, Vanakkam, Kem Cho.

I'd like to acknowledge my colleagues, amongst many Labor colleagues who are here. Michelle Rowland and Senator Lisa Singh - true leaders in the Labor Party, and I'm very happy to have your engagement in our movement.

Your Excellency, Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, one and all - welcome to the House of the people. Welcome to Parliament House.

I'd like to acknowledge that we meet on the land of Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

We're here celebrating Diwali, it enriches the life of our nation, it brings light to Australia every year.

But when I come and celebrate Diwali with you, when I come and pay my respect, I pay my respects not just for Diwali. I am here because I want to pay my respect to all of the people in the sub-continent who have chosen to make their life in Australia.

I appreciate this is a festival of life and a festival of hope but the greatest hope I have for this country is when this country comes together, when we are indeed a destination for all the people of the world.

We are most fortunate to be able to celebrate Diwali in Australia.

Because you and the Hindu community of Australia brings life and hope every day to our country. You are all diyas, shining brightly.

When I look at this room, I don't just see people here coming to celebrate Diwali, I don't just see Australians celebrating Diwali, I see the best of our nation.

I see people who've made their lives and joined their story with the Australian story. I see business leaders, I see professionals, I see people committed to their communities.

I see respect for family in this room. I see parents and grandparents who only want the best for their children and their grandchildren.

There is sometimes a discussion in Australia about immigration.

I've always made very clear, on this happiest of days, that I and my party unreservedly support us being a multicultural immigrant country.

This country and all nations of the world need more unifying moments for everyone, people of all faiths and all traditions, and I believe that when you celebrate Diwali we actually make Australia bigger and brighter and better and more hopeful.

And speaking of bigger and better, I want to congratulate the BAPS Swaminarayan volunteers who have produced this glorious Annakut, a ‘mountain of food’ bigger than the Himalayas.

As my friends and advisors Harish and Aisha have taught me to say: Bahut Bahut Dhanyavad.

We've got plenty of speakers tonight, so I won't outstay my welcome, but I do want to say that when I and my party welcome your ongoing contribution to the Australian story - we back that up.

• It's why Tony Burke has helped lead the debate against watering down protections against hate speech and discrimination.

It’s why our new FutureAsia strategy includes Hindi as a priority Asian language to be taught in Australian schools.

And it’s why when Ganesh was ridiculed, Michelle Rowland was the very first to respond to your concerns and take action as she does.

We use the word 'hope' a lot, in the media and parliament but Diwali celebrates this most precious human quality, hope.

The hope that is stronger than fear, the hope for light in the darkness, the hope we can ‘slay ignorance with the sword of wisdom.’

The hope for dharma to triumph over evil, the hope that our future will be brighter, and a more fulfilling destination for everyone.

The hope for– in those ancient Sanskrit verses:

‘the light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the very highest of heavens, the light that shines in our heart.’

I am proud and privileged to be with you tonight celebrating Diwali. And please, let me reassure you that you celebrating Diwali here brings hope not only to your community but to your home of Australia.

You are the reason why this Parliament exists.

You and millions of other Australians - you remind me most clearly, that the most important things in life are your family, and the most important gift we can give this nation as parents, as neighbours, as brothers and sisters, as people who work alongside each other and as parliamentarians is a better world than the one we found.

Diwali gives me the hope that we can deliver hope for future generations.

May you all be blessed with peace, prosperity, health and happiness.

Shubh Deepavali and Naiya Saal Mubarak!


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