House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Electorate: Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple, Isaacs Electorate: Dandenong Jobs and Skills Expo 2012

On 5 May I represented the Prime Minister at the official opening of the Hindu Society of Victoria's Cultural and Heritage Centre at the Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in Carrum Downs. I was joined by Senator Kate Lundy, Minister for Multicultural Affairs; Nicholas Kotsiras, Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship; the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Andrews; and other local state members of parliament and councillors. We celebrated the opening of the centre and the culmination of years of hard work and dedication on the part of the Hindu Society of Victoria. I thank Mr Vijeyakumar 'Vikey' Saravanathasamy, President of the Hindu Society of Victoria, for his hospitality on this wonderful occasion.

On 5 May I represented the Prime Minister at the official opening of the Hindu Society of Victoria's Cultural and Heritage Centre at the Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in Carrum Downs. I was joined by Senator Kate Lundy, Minister for Multicultural Affairs; Nicholas Kotsiras, Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship; the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Andrews; and other local state members of parliament and councillors. We celebrated the opening of the centre and the culmination of years of hard work and dedication on the part of the Hindu Society of Victoria. I thank Mr Vijeyakumar 'Vikey' Saravanathasamy, President of the Hindu Society of Victoria, for his hospitality on this wonderful occasion.

In 1984 the Hindu Society purchased 15 acres of land in Carrum Downs. The first stones for the temple—or 'Pancha-shila'—were cut in India, blessed by a priest and brought to Australia for the laying of the foundations of a temple that would become the largest Shiva temple in the Southern Hemisphere. There is a religious requirement that Shiva temples be built on virgin lands. Like so many other people who came to Carrum Downs, the Hindu Society looked at its green, unspoilt pastures and saw an opportunity to build a community.

The opening of the cultural and heritage centre, which is located next to the temple and houses a library, heritage museum, a school, meditation rooms and conference rooms as well as an extensive collection of paintings, photographs and artefacts from the Indian subcontinent, was a wonderful event. Over 2,000 people attended the opening, which began with blessings in the temple followed by a procession to the cultural and heritage centre led by young girls carrying lighted lamps and musicians playing wind and percussion instruments.

The procession is an ancient tradition which is a celebration and this procession led to the centre where the Australian, Victorian and temple flags were raised. Proceedings included the traditional lighting of the lamps and a number of Hindu cultural dances, and included recognition of Australia's Indigenous heritage with traditional dance and the playing of the didgeridoo.

I can say that it was a very exciting event for me, because the very first time on which I visited the temple in 2007 I was shown the plans and listened to the aspirations of the Hindu Society for this cultural centre, and it is a wonderful thing to see those plans come to fruition. The cultural centre cost $10 million and included a grant of $1 million from the Brumby Labor government. Most of the funds were raised by the tireless efforts of the Hindu Society from generous donors across Victoria. Today the temple and the cultural centre are the spiritual and learning centre for the Hindu community in Victoria. The 32 deities worshipped there represent the richness and diversity of the Hindu faith. I am proud to have this place of worship and education in our community.

I would also like to mention the Dandenong Jobs and Skills Expo, which I attended on 12 April with Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Human Services. The expo was a great success. Thousands of job seekers made contact with employers and training providers offering local jobs and training opportunities. Building on the success of the Jobs and Skills Expo in 2010, this year's event provided a practical way for job seekers in Isaacs to get in touch with local employers and discover new opportunities in Dandenong and around Victoria. The Melbourne south-east region which includes Dandenong is home to more than 40 per cent of Victoria's manufacturing sector and I am proud to be the local member for such a vibrant and growing community.