Filipino Friends of Labor Blacktown Community Launch
Yesterday, August 26, I was invited to speak at the Western Sydney launch of the Filipino Friends of Labor.
The Filipino Friends of Labor network formalises the enduring relationship between the Filipino-Australian community and the Labor Party. The group will help ensure closer engagement between the community and the Party, and, importantly, will assist in communicating key community issues to the political sphere.
Below is a transcript of my speech:
Pleased to be here today to launch the Filipino Friends of Labor.
Thanks to Bobby Lastica, Convenor of the group, for inviting me.
Coming from the first democracy in Asia, Filipinos have freedom in their blood. They are vigilant of their rights, and understand and fulfil their obligations as a matter of honour.
I’m informed by my staffer who lived in Manila that Filipinos are adaptable, hardworking, resilient and consummate public speakers.
In other words, perfect Labor Party branch members.
Filipinos live all across Australia, with the largest concentrations here in NSW and in Victoria.
They are ready to be useful members of their adopted country and have an enthusiastic attitude for work.
And you are making a great contribution to Australia’s economy and society in all walks of life, especially as nurses, welders, and motor mechanics, accountants, software programmers.
When I was NSW Premier and visiting hospitals around this State, I would often hear the unmistakable Filipino accent in ward corridors.
Australia and the Philippines have been firm friends throughout history. Our people to people links are deep.
Australians fought alongside Filipino and American soldiers to liberate the Philippines from Japanese rule in WWII
In the 1950s, Filipinos came to Australia to study under the Colombo Plan and stayed
Between the 1960s and 1990s, Filipinos were one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in Australia, and today, more than 4,000 Filipino students study at Australian universities.
It was a tragedy to see severe floods ravage Luzon, especially Metro Manila, earlier this month. 118 people were killed. 200,000 were still in evacuation centres a few days ago. Work and school was suspended. Families were stranded without a roof over their heads for weeks.
Australia was ready to help our Filipino friends in need.
We gave $2 million in emergency aid for flood victims including rice, water containers, hygiene kits, medical supplies and mosquito nets. Our Ambassador in Manila spoke with Foreign Secretary Del Rosario to express our support.
We worked through the Philippines Red Cross and the World Food Programme so items were available immediately to flood victims.
We are also helping the Philippines to better prepare for disasters. So that when disaster does strike- and we all know the Philippines is prone to it- the impact will be less.
But it’s not only on disaster relief that Australia and the Philippines work closely together.
Our development cooperation is achieving a lot:
• we helped two million children access better quality education in severely disadvantaged provinces since 2007;
• we contributed to a 92 per cent decrease in malaria deaths, and an increase in malaria-free provinces from 16 to 22;
• our support for construction of warehouses and crop storage facilities improved the livelihoods of more than 9000 people from 278 conflict-affected communities in Mindanao; and
• our contribution to eradicate foot and mouth disease has improved livestock productivity and provided producers with access to new export markets.
Last year marked the 65th anniversary of Australia-Philippines diplomatic relations. In addition to development cooperation, we work together on defence, policing, transport, trade and agricultural research.
The Aquino Administration’s active reform agenda is an opportunity to deepen our cooperation. I will meet with President Aquino when he visits Australia in October.
Defence links between our two countries are strong.
Trade and investment links are growing, with key Australian interests in mining, oil and gas.
And Australia and the Philippines work side-by-side in regional groupings like EAS, APEC and UN institutions to make our region and the world a more prosperous and safe place.
I congratulate you on the launch of the Filipino Friends of Labor and wish you all the very best.