Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (15:32): I rise today on behalf of those with Italian origin in Hartley. I can advise that this is around 4,000 people in total. I still remember the day, a few months ago now, when I met His Excellency Pier Francesco Zazo, the Italian Ambassador, at the Italian consulate right here in Glynde in Hartley. On that day hundreds lined Payneham Road and packed into the consulate to hear the ambassador speak of the consulate's future. It was actually there that I stood side by side with many local and community leaders, including from organisations such as Com.It.Es, Co.As.It, APAIA, the Carabinieri associations and various Italian community clubs, as well as political leaders, including the member for Unley, for example, to plead the case for the consulate to remain here in Adelaide.
At the time, the consulate was under enormous pressure from the local Italian community here, and the Italian government eventually did reverse the decision to shut its Italian consulate. We were very grateful that they decided to reverse the decision to close the consulate here.
The house will recall that one of my first acts as the member for Hartley was to continue to maintain a good relationship with the Italian Ambassador, His Excellency Pier Francesco Zazo, and to lobby the Italian government on behalf of the many thousands of South Australians of Italian descent. I recently met His Excellency with members of the Forum of Italo-Australian Parliamentarians, including yourself, Madam Deputy Speaker, where we travelled to the ambassador's personal residence in Canberra.
Amongst other things, I personally put the case to His Excellency that the consulate must remain here in Adelaide because it is simply not feasible for people to travel interstate to access consular services, especially for the frail and the elderly, and a service must remain in Adelaide. As a third generation Italo-Australian living here in Adelaide, in Hartley, I can certainly attest to the important role that the consulate plays in assisting Italian-born Australians living in Adelaide, as well as the many thousands of South Australians of Italian descent.
For many years, our community has protested, through various channels, against the closure of this consulate. Of course, this campaign has included, amongst other things, a petition, letters from key stakeholders, speeches by members of parliament and even a protest at the actual consulate. His Excellency the ambassador assured me that the Italian consulate would remain in Adelaide for the time being and acknowledged the profound role the million or so Australians of Italian origin and their families have played in building this great state and this great nation. He also admitted, however, that the Italian government is exercising fiscal restraint in a number of areas, including its foreign affairs budget.
In speaking on this issue, I thank all the community leaders and people of Italian origin who came together to help save the consulate this year. They are a stellar example of people power. I thank them for their efforts, particularly the Italian patronati, associations like Com.It.Es, Co.As.It, APAIA, the Carabinieri associations and the various Italian community clubs. At the same time, I would like to thank the Italian government for their decision to reverse the closure. We are certainly grateful to them for their sensible decision to retain the consulate in Adelaide, with the service that it provides.
I call on the people of Italian origin in Adelaide to now utilise and support the vital service that is the consulate. If Australian and Italian citizens are entitled to obtain Italian passports, I would encourage them to pay their fee and have their passports processed, which will show the Italian government that we are serious about the service that is the consulate. I will keep fighting for those of Italian origin in my electorate who use the Italian consulate services in Adelaide and in Australia to ensure that the consulate remains in Adelaide for, hopefully, many years to come.