Labour Senator for Tasmania, Lisa Singh, also the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Water, visited Melbourne on invitation from Manika Jain, the Indian Consul General in Melbourne, to celebrate Indian Independence day on Friday, 15 August. As a woman of Indian origin, Singh said she always looked forward to celebrating Indian Independence day as it marks a pivotal moment in the history of India. “Indeed, this event, held at the Indian Consulate in St Kilda Rd, was quite auspicious as my favourite Indian dosa was offered for evening dinner after the formalities concluded, with a beautiful spicy aloo inside,” said Ms Singh on a lighter note.
In her speech to the gathering, Ms Singh reflected upon the meaning of the Indian tri-colour, and how the saffron, white and green each represented the important aspirations of the nation.
“The bond between Australia and India has gone from strength to strength in recent years. A key moment in our ever-improving relationship was when the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited India in 2009. Another turning point will occur this November when the newly elected Prime Minster of India, Narendra Modi, will visit Australia as part of the G20 Summit,” said Ms Singh at the event.
She said that the relationship between the two countries was so much more than food and cricket. “It is strengthened by growing ties in education, foreign affairs, science and technology and resources. But it is also reinforced through the important contributions made by the growing Indian diaspora, many of you whom I have had the pleasure of meeting as a Senator over the last three years,” she said.
“Today’s India is a very different India from 68 years ago. It has grown in size, in wealth and stature. It is a nation of many faces and many aspects. Its people possess a tremendous energy, and their energy makes the pace of change rapid, and seemingly never ending. But the raising of the flag reminds us that this change is a healthy process. It is part of a destiny charted for India 68 years ago. A journey of discovery that adds new chapters to an already rich history and culture,” said Ms Singh, who spent the day after the event visiting the home of Deepak Vinayak JP, who organised a community gathering in his family home in Craigieburn. At the community gathering the senator interacted with people from the South Asian communities including from the Nepalese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistan and Bhutanese communities. She was also presented with a plaque by Farrukh Hussain, Mr Vinayak and Guri Singh from ‘Friends of Labor’.
Other members at the community event included Liz Beattie, the Victorian Labor Party’s current Member for Yuroke; and Ros Spence, former Mayor of Hume and the Labor Party’s candidate for Yuroke at the upcoming Victorian state election. Both women spoke passionately about the importance of multiculturalism, and their connection with the communities present. Also present at the event were current Mayor of Hume Casey Nunn and Labor’s candidate for Mt Waverley Jennifer Yang.
At the gathering, Ms Singh discussed the stress that had been caused by the recent Federal Government budget, and the threat of high costs for education with the deregulation of universities, rising HECS fees, as well as the GP $7 co-payment that is been unfairly pushed by the Abbott government.
“Whilst it has been highlighted that I am the only parliamentarian of Indian origin in Australia’s Federal parliament, it is my hope and desire that this changes in the future. A truly multicultural society needs to have its diverse fabric represented through all aspects of community. That is why the active involvement of the Indian community in Australian politics is so important,” she said, and added that as a diaspora of over 400,000 people, Australians of Indian origin need to ensure they are represented in politics, as much as they are in business. “The shared understanding of democracy by both India and Australia is something Australia’s Indian diaspora know only too well. I look forward to them joining me in future Australian Parliaments,” she said.
After a lovely morning tea, the senator joined community members at the Craigieburn football field to meet the players of a match organised by the AFL to be played that afternoon between India and Pakistan.
Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Magazine in Australia)