Hindu Council of Australia Deepavali at Parliament House
Can I start by adding my acknowledgement of Country.
To my co-host Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, it’s once again our pleasure to co-host tonight’s proceedings – tonight’s 10th anniversary celebrations.
To my many parliamentary colleagues that are here; Professor Nihal Agar and your Hindu Council of Australia; Your Excellencies; the many, many other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
As the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, I am very pleased to again be involved with this event to help celebrate the Festival of Lights.
An I am pleased to represent the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, who has asked for me to pass on his very best wishes to you all for Deepavali.
Thank you to the Hindu Council of Australia for organising this wonderful event – and congratulations on a wonderful ten year anniversary.
One of the great things about being Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs is having the opportunity to attend so many wonderful celebrations like this one tonight.
And they are indeed a feature of our wonderful multicultural society – where all of our communities can come together and celebrate our respective cultures and the freedoms that we enjoy whilst being part of Australian society.
As we know tonight’s festival marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, an opportunity for families and communities to gather and reflect on aspirations and achievements.
With its wonderful displays of light and colour, fireworks and fabrics, Deepavali calls on our diverse communities of Hindu and Sikh Australians around our great multicultural nation to celebrate New Year with the rest of the community.
It reminds us that our many communities have helped form the prosperous, diverse and cohesive society we enjoy today.
Since 1945, we have welcomed 7.5 million migrants to Australia, including 825,000 under our humanitarian programme and we continue to welcome people to our Australian family.
We are now one of the most culturally diverse nations on Earth, with about 47% of us either born overseas or that have at least one parent born overseas.
Most of the world’s religions are practised in Australia, and as we saw from the last census those numbers are going.
The contribution of the Hindu and Sikh communities, and others, adds the colour, richness and vitality to this great country.
In the coming years and decades I know Australia’s Hindus and Sikhs will continue to have an important role in the social, cultural and economic fabric of our nation – can I thank you for your commitment and contribution to our nation.
The Australian Government supports a productive, harmonious and diverse society for all Australians.
As a nation, we have found unity and prosperity in our diversity and respect for our differences.
All of our faiths are valued and we take pride that in Australia, our faith communities are cohesive and we do not experience the divisions that some other countries do.
We respect the rights of all Australians to celebrate, practice and maintain their cultural traditions within the law and free from discrimination.
During Deepavali, we remember that cultural expression and faith are important elements in our society. And For many, these provide meaning, purpose and inspiration to their daily lives. They enrich and enliven our society, giving a greater texture and depth to the backdrop of modern contemporary multicultural Australia.
Deepavali transcends religious differences to unite all of us in celebration, to bring together not only those of Indian ancestry and followers of the Hindu and Sikh faiths, but all Australians.
So on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, I offer our al the very, very best for this year’s Deepavali celebrations.
I congratulate the Hindu Council of Australia for the contribution you have made over the many, many years in supporting and fostering the growth and integration of the Hindu community into Australian society. You must also be commended for the work that you do in the interfaith and multicultural activities around Australia.
I wish you all the very, very best and happy Deepaval to all of you.