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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3154

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (10:08): I rise today to pay tribute to a highly regarded local institution, which is the Afghan Pamir Restaurant, and its owner Baryalai Rahimi. Rahimi, as he is known to many, has operated his restaurant in the Dandenong area for over 10 years. In celebration of the relocation of this restaurant to Lonsdale Street Dandenong I wanted to take some time to tell Rahimi's remarkable story and his vision for creating a traditional Afghan restaurant in Melbourne.

Originally from Jalalabad in Afghanistan Rahimi migrated to Australia in 1991 first arriving in Perth and then a year later finding a home with his family and settling in Melbourne. In 2001 Rahimi combined his love of cooking with his love of hospitality and opened the Pamir Kebab House in Thomas Street, Dandenong. Known as the Afghan Pamir Restaurant the restaurant has survived three moves due to the revitalisation works in Dandenong. Each time this has put significant strain on the vitality and the financial viability of the business and each time through sheer hard work Rahimi and his team have rebuilt their business. I know at one stage the difficulties created by these multiple moves nearly forced Rahimi to relocate his restaurant to the city. Whilst I am sure it would have been immensely popular in the city, it would have been a great loss to our local area. I am glad that he was able to stay and I am sure his many loyal customers in the area feel the same. The Afghan Pamir Restaurant is a family-run business, with many of Rahimi's children working there at one time or another. Over the years the restaurant has developed a loyal following of locals and from those further afield. It has been featured on the tourism programs Postcards and Coxy's Big Break, has taken part in the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and has been written about extensively in Melbourne newspapers. I could talk about the dishes themselves but I do not have time unfortunately. In terms of the cuisine, the people and the culture of the place, members of the Australian Army who are being deployed to Afghanistan often visit the restaurant to learn about the food, the language and the culture. On returning to Australia many come back to the restaurant with their colleagues and families keen to experience Rahimi's renowned Afghan hospitality and cuisine.

One thing about Rahimi that I know many people do not know—but I am sure it does not surprise those who know him—is his extraordinary generosity. Most nights, very quietly and without any fuss, he feeds a number of Dandenong's homeless—not leftovers at the end of the night but a hearty meal plated up and served with respect and understanding. I do not believe he has ever turned away someone in need.

Rahimi is immensely proud of his family. He has five children: his daughter is working as a pathologist after finishing her tertiary studies; two of his sons are studying in the medical science laboratory area; and another son is studying accounting. I am sure that they will be incredibly successful in their chosen careers. I was fortunate enough to live next to Rahimi for some time when he lived in Endeavour Hills.

We hear about immigration and we hear about people who come to this country and make their lives our country's life, but someone like Rahimi shows that you can have people who come in difficult circumstances and make a fist of it—they make a future. I am very proud of this man, his family and the contribution he has made to Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.