MEMBERS STATEMENTS – Assistant Treasurer: comments – Thursday, 3 March 2011

MEMBERS STATEMENTS – Assistant Treasurer: comments – Thursday, 3 March 2011

Posted on 11. Mar, 2011 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — Last Friday I attended the Chinese New Year celebration reception organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. I must report to the house the clumsy and insensitive attempt at rewriting history by the Premier’s representative, the Honourable Gordon Rich‑Phillips, by referring to the racist and anti‑Chinese poll tax imposed by the Victorian Parliament in the 1850s as a clever economic measure and opportunity introduced by the Treasurer of Victoria during the gold rush era.

A search of Hansard shows that the £10 poll tax imposed only on the Chinese brought misery and horrendous hardship for some 16 500 Chinese gold‑seekers as they avoided this racially discriminatory tax by walking more than 500 kilometres from the port of Robe in South Australia to the goldfields of Victoria, resulting in many deaths from hardship, exhaustion, sickness and attacks by Aboriginal people along the way. For a minister of the Crown to make light of the suffering of the Chinese people during that tragic chapter of this state’s history on the occasion of this Chinese New Year celebration is most insensitive, patronising and condescending. He owes the Chinese community an apology by way of a personal explanation to be made forthwith.

The house might like to note that in 2007 then New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark made an official apology on behalf of her country to the Chinese community of New Zealand for the same wrongdoing.

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