Bill's Speeches

BENGALI NEW YEAR FESTIVAL

BENGALI NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
SYDNEY TENNIS CENTRE
SATURDAY, 18 APRIL 2015

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Shubho Naba Barsho! 

I’m so pleased to be with you, at this remarkable celebration.

It’s great to see my friends Michelle Rowland and Matt Thistlewaite here – two local champions.

And many of our New South Wales colleagues are here too: Ernest Wong, Jodie McKay and Jihad Dib.

I’ve stood and spoken on many stages, for many years, but nothing quite compares with the view from here today: a great sea of smiling faces, united in joy, optimism and hope for the future.

To all of you who have worked so hard to make today happen, Sheik Haque, Tushar Roy, Surajit Roy, the Bangabandhu Council and the wider community, congratulations.

You can take great pride in what you have achieved and in how far you have come.

Today we gather to celebrate a culture and a people rich in poetry, art, music, dance, song, cinema…and delicious food.

A culture that has outlasted Empires.

A people who have overcome floods and famine, war and persecution.

A culture and a people who, even in times of the greatest hardship and days of despair, have stayed true to the dream of shared happiness and joy, of peace and mutual understanding.

And I know how much the Bengali language means to so many of you.

It was the language that first spoke of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, the language of freedom and the future.

So I encourage you to teach your children to speak Bengali, as well as English, and to always be proud of your history and your heritage.

Today, all Australians celebrate the gifts you have given us.

We give thanks for people like you, working late shifts and long hours, taking risks, starting businesses and creating jobs.

Loving parents making sacrifices to give their children the best start in life.

Dedicated students excelling in our schools and universities.

And all the while, enriching, emboldening and enlarging Australia’s great, generous multicultural society.

This is your story – and it is the Australian story too.

This is the home we share, a destination made great by immigration, hard work, self-belief and diversity.

An Australia that will never give in to hatred, extremism and fear.

An Australia where we stand strong because we stand together: united, not defeated.

And a nation ready to act internationally: determined to take real action on climate change and committed to boosting workplace safety and workers’ rights around the world.

Friends, Islam is a religion of peace.

 

I've heard you say it, and I know you mean it.

Friends, it is my pleasure to wish you every happiness in the Bengali New Year ahead.

May it bring you, and the people you love, good health, peace and prosperity.

ENDS

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