Thursday 16 October, 2014

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (15:20): Thank you, Deputy Speaker. It is amazing how well behaved one can be when they are on two warnings. I rise today to speak on behalf of the Indian residents in my electorate and talk about the celebration of Diwali 2014, which will take place in Adelaide, and for millions around the world, at the end of October. Many of my constituents in Hartley are of Indian descent or identify with Indian people; in fact, that group is one of the largest multicultural demographics in my seat.

Diwali is an incredibly important religious festival for Hindus as well as for Sikhs, who celebrate Diwali to mark Bandi Chhor Divas. For members who are unaware, Diwali is the festival of lights, which symbolises the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil, and it is celebrated over many days. However, in Australia Diwali is more than just a religious festival; it is a celebration of identity, particularly for those from the subcontinent. All over Hartley preparations are underway in the community and in our local shops to prepare for the festival.

I would like to particularly acknowledge the work of many of the Indian associations in and around my area that do a fantastic job educating the next generation of Indians, sharing in cultural festivals, and passing on their traditions and language to the next generation. That includes, but is not limited to, the Punjab Aussie Association of South Australia and the South Australian Punjabi Association. In that latter organisation I would like to recognise Dr Kuldip Chugha, and Dr Rakesh Mohindra of the Indian Australian Association of South Australia, as well as the Sikh Society of South Australia and others who work tirelessly for their communities. The work they do is outstanding.

I will have the pleasure of attending the Diwali Mela 2014 in Thorndon Park, actually in the electorate of Morialta. I know that the member for Morialta is also a keen lover of Indian culture, food and dancing, and I look forward to participating in that festival with him. We look forward to supporting the festival and to meeting the good members of the Indian community who enjoy celebrating this important festival and acknowledging their cultural heritage.

I should also note that this festival almost did not go ahead, but I commend and thank the local council in the area, and especially its councillors, for agreeing to support the association. In the end common sense prevailed, and the festival was allowed to go ahead. It would have been an absolute travesty if it did not.

On the nation of India, specifically, it is worth pointing out that it is a very important country for South Australia, not only in terms of the potential for trade and growing South Australia's export markets—which we need to do and which is being addressed at the moment—but also because of the high levels of migration from the Indian subcontinent. That is a great thing. Immigration from the Indian subcontinent has brought enormous benefits to this state and to this country.

As the descendant of migrants, I perhaps have some deeper understanding and appreciation of the hard work and sacrifice that many of these migrants face when they arrive in Australia and South Australia. South Australia is a better place for the continuing involvement of the Indian community, and the strides they make to improve our society more generally. I would like to end my remarks today by wishing all in the community a happy Diwali and, to all my Indian friends and all those who celebrate this terrific festival, I wish them all the very best for the future.