House debates

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Constituency Statements

St George Chinese Community Memorial

10:54 am

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about a wonderful project that I've done in consultation with the member for Maranoa, Minister Littleproud, between my electorate of Moreton in the city and his electorate of Maranoa in my home town of St George, in the bush. We're bringing the city and country together with this project. The project is to recognise the fact that for the last 150 years there's been a strong Chinese presence in the bush. In fact, this is going back to the Amoy shepherd's, who came to Queensland back in the 1860s. Many went to the Darling Downs and looked after the flocks on the Darling Downs. They came from Amoy, which is now Xiamen in southern China. Many experienced hardship. Many of them did not find a life of great wealth. Some came a bit later for the goldfields but actually found wealth in businesses and the like.

I was told by the former Mayor of St George Robert Buchan that many of their grave markers were burnt down in the 1970s, when a grass fire got out of control. I came up with this project, working with Richard Marsh, the current mayor of Balonne Shire, and Minister Littleproud. We had a design competition, which was won by an Indigenous year 7 student, Daisy Brown. She's got this wonderful design showing the local Indigenous Kamilaroi welcoming the Chinese settlers to the area. We then had the first sod turned on 7 April. On 11 October this year the memorial designed by Daisy Brown, Lewis Lee and the committee under the stewardship of Jack Sun—a wonderful committee—was completed. It was built by Wing Hing Construction under the stewardship of Kwong Wha Tse and local builders in St George. We've got a great memorial. We'll hopefully be having an opening in February next year. On that day, I look forward to seeing people like Wayne Long—who's a good friend of mine, a guy who I went to school with. His is an Indigenous Chinese story, as there often is in the bush, where the Chinese community had relationships with the Indigenous community. Now there's that long history—no pun intended—for people like Wayne Long, where they've got an Indigenous background going back 60,000 years and also a strong connection with the middle kingdom and China. This is a wonderful connection between the bush and the city. I look forward to being at the opening with Minister Littleproud in February next year.