Members Statements - Macedonia

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Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:08): It is a great privilege to join my colleagues the member for Throsby and the member for Perth today in our call for the government to take action to recognise the Republic of Macedonia by its preferred name. I also want to acknowledge the member for Cowan, who has made the same points in a contribution he has made on this issue.                                                     

For many decades I have worked closely with our wonderful Macedonian community of the Illawarra. I have joined them for festive dinners, attended many of their cultural events and shows and met with them in formal delegations about issues of concern to their community. I would particularly like to recognise the work of Lou Stefanovski and his committee members on these issues. I was very pleased that we were able to join them in showing my colleague the member for Perth their beautiful church in Wollongong and to join them for lunch on her recent visit to our city. I have also had the opportunity to meet and discuss the matters with the ambassador, Vele Trpevski, in recent months. 

Across all aspects of our local life our Macedonian community members have enriched our local story—from the first arrivals after the Second World War, who toiled at the steelworks, to the second and third generations who now run local businesses, lead local organisations and star on our sporting and artistic stages. Despite this wonderful story of migration and the determination with which they have adopted their new country, the persistent issue of heartache to them is the ability to be referred to by the preferred name of their home country—the Republic of Macedonia. It is surely now time for a bipartisan resolution of this matter.