You could see it as an early Independence Day gift, if there is such a thing. When the NSW Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ray Williams announced that Dr Hari Harinath will continue in a second term as Chair of Multicultural NSW, a gentle cheer went up in the crowd.
The occasion: NSW Parliament’s reception for the Indian community to mark India’s 72nd Independence Day.
The oldest parliament in Australia has marked several important calendar events for the state’s Indian community, but it is believed this is the first time the anniversary of India’s Independence was celebrated here.
Speaking on the occasion, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “By acknowledging your Independence Day, we wish to show the respect with which we regard your community and your contributions to our state.”
She also spoke about her recent visit to India, listing her delegation’s achievements in Mumbai and Delhi across industries such as IT and food which will see significant tie-ups established for mutual benefit. She also revealed that the state will join in in the celebrations planned for Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary next year.
The Minister for Multiculturalism congratulated the community on Independence Day. “We see you often in your backyard; on this occasion we welcome you into ours.”
Ms Berejiklian and Mr Williams were joined by parliamentarians Geoff Lee, Damien Tudehope, Mark Coure, Mark Taylor and Scott Farlow, all representatives of significant numbers of Indian-origin constituents.
The Consul General of India (Sydney) B Vanlalvawna expressed his appreciation of the government’s gesture at organising the event. “Having served in five different countries so far, I can safely say I have not seen this level of engagement so far with the local Indian community, particularly from the political establishment,” he said.
Some 200 members of the Indian community were invited for the event, organised by Multicultural NSW. Congratulating Dr Hari Harinath the Premier said, “Your continuation of tenure speaks volumes of your commitment, and the trust we place in your enormous wisdom as you advise us on multicultural affairs.”
NSW Labor: We’ll take TAFE NSW to India
Later in the morning, the NSW Opposition also held an event to mark India’s Independence Day.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley announced on the occasion that a Labor government would equip TAFE NSW to export its services to help India achieve its goal of skilling its citizens. “The Varghese report identified education as a significant sector where Australia’s competitive advantages match India’s needs, and the vocational sector is one where we can help in the transformation,” he said.
Shadow Skills Minsiter Prue Car added, “We hope to rebuild TAFE as opposed to the current government, and India will be the first place for its rehabilitation. This is a mark of our commitment to you.”
Joining Mr Foley and Ms Car (herself of Indian heritage), were MPs Jodi McKay and Julia Finn, both well-known Indophiles, and the youthful Charishma Kaliyanda, who Labor has just announced as candidate for Holsworthy for the March 2019 state elections.