On Saturday it was my privilege to represent the Leader of the Opposition at the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner in Melbourne. This was a wonderful event and a great opportunity to celebrate the work of this organisation and indeed to celebrate the great contribution of the Italian community in Australia, and particularly in Melbourne. It was wonderful to think about the role the chamber has played in fostering trade links between Italian and Australian businesses over nearly 100 years but, beyond that, to build a much closer understanding between two cultures and two countries.
It also brought people together in a very good cause—namely, supporting kids with cancer through the My Room project of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. I am sure much money was raised and it will make an extraordinary difference.But fundamentally I thought the occasion was a celebration of Australia's multiculturalism. Representing an electorate in Melbourne's northern suburbs, I am only too well aware of what a difference the Italian community has made to my city and to our way of life. It is no exaggeration to say that the imprint of Italian culture has transformed Melbourne. The theme of Saturday's event, 'Gusto Italiano', the taste of Italy, was evident on the night through the contribution of great Scullin businesses like Bertocchi and Pantalica Cheese but also in the sense of style, the sense of confidence and the sense of understanding across cultures that really characterises modern multicultural Australia.