Great stuff, David Clarke, is from my electorate of Bankstown. We do have a large Polish Club at Bankstown and many ageing and young Polish people, with aMessage 1 of 2 , May 10, 2012View Source
Great stuff, David Clarke, is from my electorate of Bankstown. We do have a large Polish Club at Bankstown and many ageing and young Polish people, with a Polish School at St. Felix, with an honors in the Polish language being credited to language studies in High School Certificate and is used as composite of marks for YEAR 12 and University Entrance marks. We, the People of Polish Origin, have been here since 1950’s and hopefully some of our culture was understood by him and represented in Parliament. This is wonderful.
The National Day of Poland got a mention yesterday in the NSW (Australian) Parliament! Stirring stuff!
The Hon. DAVID CLARKE (Parliamentary Secretary) [3.53 p.m.]: Only a few days ago I was deeply honoured to represent the Premier and to speak at a celebration to mark the National Day of Poland. Today I take the opportunity to pay my respects to members of the Polish-Australian community and to acknowledge their many admirable achievements in this country. I also wish to highlight some landmark events in Poland's recent history which have played such a pivotal and positive part in shaping the history of Europe and indeed the world in the direction of freedom and democracy. I also pay tribute to the heroic virtue of Poland and her people and their triumph over what others might see as insurmountable odds, with the result that the Republic of Poland is today a nation of freedom and democracy and an upholder of human rights.
The National Day of Poland, which falls on 3 May, commemorates the adoption of Poland's first constitution in 1791. That was the first constitution of any nation in Europe and indeed the second constitution in the world after that of the United States. But to me the National Day of Poland represents infinitely more than a constitution; it represents a people at the very centre of Europe going back to the earliest days of European civilisation. It represents a people firmly anchored to the values of Western civilisation and it represents a people who have overcome great obstacles and adversities in their history.
Only a few days ago we celebrated Anzac Day, and among the thousands of war veterans who marched past Sydney's Cenotaph was a contingent of Polish World War II veterans. They march without fail every year and they will continue to march each year until they can physically march no longer. The most catastrophic of all wars was World War II, which started with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. And, as many leftist commentators are too shy, or too sly, to want to acknowledge, a few weeks later the Soviet Union invaded from the east as part of a secret carve-up of Poland pact between Hitler and Stalin. For two years in eastern Poland under communism and for two years in western Poland under Nazism, and then for another four years when all of Poland was under Nazism, the lot of the Polish people was one of forced deportations, starvation and mass destruction. Poland was a slave state of cruelty and barbarity in which millions were murdered.
But these years of occupation were also years of great heroism for the Polish people—the heroism of the Warsaw ghetto uprising; the heroism of the later Warsaw general uprising; and the heroism of the Polish underground. Then there was the heroism of the Polish military units that, having been overwhelmed by the forces of Hitler and Stalin, escaped to Britain and fought as pilots in the Battle of Britain. There also were those Polish units who took part in the landings at Normandy. These are the things history records when it speaks of the Polish people. Following these war years the Polish people lived under 45 years of brutal oppression—communist oppression and Soviet oppression. But they were years of Polish defiance when, despite Soviet domination, their spirit was never broken, because it never could be broken.
The collapse of communism in Europe and elsewhere started in Poland. It started with the Polish people, in the shipyards of Gdansk, with an organisation called Solidarity and with men such as Lech Walesa. They were energised and inspired by another hero, a Polish Pope, John Paul II. The collapse of communism, which had worldwide positive repercussions for freedom, democracy and human rights, started with the Polish people. To my mind the Polish people, sanctified through their suffering and heroism, were destined by providence to be the spark that lit the fire that caused the collapse of communism. It happened with relatively little loss of life, which must surely be a miracle of modern times.
I remember well the members of the Polish community in Australia who during some of those later dark years lived through many of those terrible years in Nazi- and communist-occupied Poland. Today I give testimony here in the Parliament of New South Wales that the spirit of our Polish community in Australia never wavered or wilted or faltered. Never were there better sons and daughters of a free Poland than our Polish community. Since their arrival here they have been good and great sons and daughters of Australia as well. In talking today about the Polish presence in Australia I could have referred to the first Pole to visit our shores in the 1600s or the first Polish settler in 1803 or the many distinguished Australian achievers of Polish background, and all of these things would be true. But it is the heroism and the refusal of the Polish people to wilt under the severest of pressure that comes to my mind when I commend our Polish-Australian community and congratulate for its national day the free and noble nation of Poland.