I am delighted to speak to this matter of public importance, which recognises a festival that is significant to the Chinese Australian community across New South Wales. The importance of this festival in Australia can be interpreted through the various events that have and will b e going on, including plans to light up the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge in the lucky colour of red. In this House we acknowledge the Year of the Dog and those across the world who celebrate Lunar New Year. The festival celebrates the commencement of the new lunar calendar , and the celebrations extend for 15 days. The festival is symbolised by red— a colour that is said to scare off evil spirits.
The first day of the lunar calendar falls on 16 February this year, but most families and friends gather on 15 February for the New Year's Eve reunion dinner, when food that symbolises good luck and prosperity is shared. It is also customary for families and friends to visit temples on New Year's Eve to pray for a lucky year ahead. Given the significance of the festival in Sydney, not only have I been invited to many events but also I will be hosting a few , including a walk through Strathfield tonight with the God of Wealth , handing out red pockets and Fai Chun posters. Red pockets symbolise good luck and are given by elders or seniors in the family. In return , it is customary for children to wish their elders a happy new year, good health and good fortune.
I have a wonderfully diverse electorate , and so Lunar New Year is important to my Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Australian communities. As such, I will also be handing out the Fai Chun, which is a red , long poster with a lucky phrase on it.
It is traditional for these posters to be displayed in homes to scare away evil spirits. I will also be leading a traditional Chinese lion dance through Burwood to extend my best wishes to businesses and the general public. This year joining me on the walk will be members of the West Tigers rugby league football team, and of course their mascot. I thank Tommy Tong and his lion dance group from Tommy Tong's Traditional Chinese Performing Arts Centre for performing every year. I am pleased to join the Chinese Australian community in attending many of their events, the first of which will be the inaugural Chinese New Year celebrations held this weekend with the Australian Zhaoqing Fellowship Association and Australian Zhaoqing Industry and Commerce Association. This event will be held at a farm in Rossmore in honour of the farming history of the Zhaoqing people in Liverpool. Also in Liverpool this weekend I will be attending the charming Asia New Year Festival.
New Year's Day is always very busy, and I will be spending a part of that day at the Chinese New Year celebration at a temple in Bonnyrigg hosted by the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society. I thank Vincent Kong and his society for their continuing contribution to our Chinese Australian community. New Year is celebrated not only in temples, homes and businesses but also by community groups, and of course in nursing homes. I have spoken before in this place about the work of the Bernard Chan Nursing Home in Burwood, and I look forward to joining residents for an afternoon tea. I also thank Ada Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Nursing Home Foundation, and her staff. They provide excellent care for the elderly in my community. I also commend the work of the Chinese Australian Services Society, an organisation that supports the Chinese Australian community in the inner west. I will join them in their celebrations, as I have done in previous years. In early March we have a wonderful day at the China Fun Fair in Burwood Park. I thank the Australian Commerce and Culture Association for their efforts each year.
Lunar New Year events will be held across Sydney, including the opening of the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival, hosted by the Australia China Economics, Trade and Culture Association; the New Year Celebration Dinner, hosted by the Australian Chinese Charity Foundation; the Vietnamese New Year—their Tet Festival—organised by the Vietnamese Community in Australia (NSW Chapter); and the annual Cultural Chinese New Year banquet, hosted by the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce. These are more than a few of the events that will be held this year. It is fitting that Australia's oldest Parliament wish the Chinese Australian community a happy Chinese New Year of the Dog.
Ms JODI McKAY ( Strathfield ) ( 15:57 ):
In reply: I thank the member for Oatley, who is present in the Chamber, the member for Cootamundra and the member for Kogarah for their wonderful contributions to the discussion on this matter of public importance. It is important at this time of the year to acknowledge the significance to our communities of the Lunar New Year. It is wonderful that the member for Cootamundra, who represents a country electorate, participated in the discussion out of respect for the Lunar New Year festival, which is celebrated across New South Wales. The members who participated in the discussion spoke about the importance of community in celebrating the Lunar New Year. I referred to the importance of family and community groups.
The member for Kogarah and the member for Oatley know that community is at the heart of Lunar New Year celebrations. I see the member for Oatley at many events that we both attend and I know that he is well regarded within the Chinese-Australian community. We experience firsthand the great enthusiasm of many of our community groups, which is at no time more evident than in celebrations of the Lunar New Year. As the member for Kogarah said, the Chinese-Australian community is very much a driver of culture and commerce in the communities in which they reside.As the member for Cootamundra said, that includes the students living in our electorates and the tourism it generates. These celebrations are important to the way this State operates. When we get together to enjoy the Lunar New Year celebrations we create something spectacular.
I acknowledge my staff member Michael Ng, who has worked with me in organising my many Lunar New Year functions. We are involved in many events, and my officers and I go to a great deal of effort. The office is festooned with decorations and we have about 3,000 red pockets that we will distribute over the next week, starting in about two hours when I take the God of Wealth through Strathfield Plaza and meet with my Korean community. This weekend I will be joined by the Wests Tigers in walking down Burwood Road. It is fitting that we will have the lion and the Tiger getting together in the Year of the Dog. Michael has done a wonderful job organising these events with my community. We have heard that the member for Oatley is a Horse, and I am a Rooster. It would appear that these zodiac signs are fitting. I wish everyone a Happy New Year in the Year of the Dog. Kung Hei Fat Choy!