It's a pleasure to speak on the motion moved by the members for Chifley and Shortland. This motion celebrates the strength of bilateral diplomatic relations between Australia and the Philippines over the last 75 years and acknowledges the importance of effective diplomatic relations for both countries. Together, Australia and the Philippines have signed 120 agreements aimed at promoting political security and economic and cultural cooperation.
In 1901 an early Australian census identified approximately 700 Filipinos who worked on trading ships and in the pearling industry across Australia. Not long after, and during, the Second World War the Leyte landings operation was launched as part of the Philippines campaign. Australian POWs who fought alongside Filipino guerrillas were just another foreshadowing of the shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation which is now treasured by our nations. It was not long after that the Australian and Philippine ties were formally established with diplomatic relations. These relations ensured that our two countries would always have a close relationship, and that relationship is not based on our geographical location but mainly because of our shared history and values and community.
Our friendship with the Philippines is one of Australia's longest-standing bilateral relationships. Seventy-five years ago formal relations commenced with the opening of Australia's first consul general in Manilla in May 1946. More recently, in 2015, the signing of the joint declaration of the Philippines-Australia comprehensive partnership marked a new era for relations between our two great nations. The partnership acknowledged our increasing cooperation and the history of the relationship and reinforced our relationship for years to come.
Australia's relationship with the Philippines has facilitated one of Australia's largest development assistance programs in our history. Over 30 years Australia has supported the delivery of quality basic education, significantly improving the lives of Filipino children. This includes assistance in the classroom, reconstruction and making education accessible for all. Australia also helps to build effective and accountable public institutions, including supporting civil and academic organisations that benefit the Filipino public in general. Not only does this support the social development of the Philippines but it also spurs economic development.
The Australian Embassy in 2013 reported that the two-way trade between our countries is valued at approximately $3 billion per annum, with more than 200 Australian companies in the Philippines making a significant contribution to both economies. As a longstanding and committed partner, Australia is happy to name the people of the Philippines as friends.
The theme of the 75th anniversary is mateship and bayanihan. Bayanihan is the Filipino ideal similar to the Australian tradition of mateship. It is the notion of friendship, solidarity and coming together. That mateship was personified by migration. During the 1980s, migration between the two countries increased significantly. Western Sydney is now home to 28 per cent of all Tagalog speakers in Australia. People of Filipino descent are one of my electorate's largest and fastest-growing population groups, with over 3,000 people in Werriwa born in the Philippines. Of course, this doesn't include the thousands of children born in Australia to Filipino parents, who still maintain strong links to that culture. Retaining culture and heritage is one of the many practices which make Western Sydney and my community great. The Filipino community in Australia is continuing to grow. With more than 250,000 Filipinos now calling Australia home, it is the sixth largest migrant community in Australia.
Australia's deep relationship with the Philippines has delivered important cultural and community links. An example of this contribution is that of Councillor Rey Manoto, a councillor for the last five years at Campbelltown City Council. Councillor Manoto has always displayed his unwavering commitment to those in his community who are less fortunate and is a fantastic representative of Filipino Australians in South-Western Sydney. Werriwa and Western Sydney would not be the same without the contributions from Councillor Manoto and all of his community. I thank them so much for the opportunity to go to their events. They are—as a previous member said—wonderful, vibrant events.