I recently launched a Museum of Sydney exhibition, Celestial City: Sydney’s Chinese Story, which traced the highs and lows of Chinese immigration.
It’s a story common to many of the immigrants who have come to Sydney and NSW from so many parts of the world. It reflects the efforts to forge a place in society – and the contribution migrants have made to this State and our nation.
It reminds us that we live in harmony in one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
The launch took place as Australia was debating proposed changes to Federal racial discrimination laws, and it was a fitting occasion for me to express my views on the issue.
In commendably seeking to protect freedom of speech we must not lower our defences against the evil of racial and religious intolerance because bigotry should never be sanctioned, whether intentionally or not.
Vilification on the grounds of race or religion is always wrong, and there is no place for inciting hatreds within our Australian society. We are, after all, the envy of so much of the world.
I lead Australia’s most culturally diverse State and we live in a city which for more than 200 years has welcomed people from around the world.
Our diversity, cultures and contributions are the foundations of New South Wales’ past and future success and we must avoid actions that would undermine these foundations.
We enjoy a history, as a State and nation, of which we can be overwhelmingly proud, but we must never forget that it also includes appalling examples of the consequences of intolerance and hatred.
No government, no organisation and no citizen can afford to be less than vigilant in combatting bigotry, intolerance and hatred. Our way of life depends on it.
In other news, I’m pleased to report the North West Rail Link is progressing well with the first of four tunnel boring machines due to be in the ground by October 2014.
The $8.3 billion project will add eight new railway stations, twin tunnels from Bella Vista to Epping, and 4,000 commuter car parking spaces.
Excavation work has started to prepare the site for the tunnel boring machines at the site of what will be the new Bella Vista Station. The tunnelling phase of the project will support more than 900 jobs, and a massive recruitment drive is now underway in good news for jobseekers in Western Sydney.
Jobs are open to both experienced tradies and new entrants to the tunnelling and civil construction industry. More details about the jobs on offer can be found on the North West Rail Link website, www.northwestrail.com.au.
The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is getting on with the job of delivering the major public transport projects that are desperately needed after 16 years of Labor neglect, and we’re on track to open the North West Rail Link in 2019 on time and on budget.
Published in Indian magazine, Australia