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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1092

Mr LAUNDY (Reid) (09:46): Reid is one of the most multiculturally diverse seats in federal parliament. Fifty-five per cent of the people who live there are born overseas. One of the great communities that calls Reid home is our local Lebanese community. I would like to extend my warmest wishes to the Lebanese community within my electorate, because tomorrow, Friday, 22 November, is Lebanese Independence Day. In fact, it is the 70th anniversary of that.

Over 2½ thousand of my constituents were born in Lebanon and over 6½ thousand people in Reid have Lebanese ancestry. They have been a marvellous addition to the multicultural landscape that makes up Reid. Part of that wonderful community is my local Maronite community. I would also like to extend a word of congratulations to Bishop Tarabay. On 3 June this year he was made the fourth bishop of the Maronite Diocese of Australia. I also have a strong personal connection with the bishop, because he is my back-fence neighbour. It has been great to have a chat over a cup of coffee with him. The guidance he provides his community is fantastic.

I remember my first introduction to the Maronite community was in fourth class in the local Catholic school. I met Chris Ayoub and asked whether he was Catholic. He said, 'No; I am Maronite.' I asked him what that meant and he said, 'It means I'm more Catholic than you are.' I have a great local parish, St Joseph's Croydon. Charlie Sara and all the team there are fantastic to me.

Finally, I would like to record my deepest sympathies. Lebanon, the country of the community's birth, is still a country where at times there are terror attacks. Last week was an occasion on which such a callous event occurred. It was a stark reminder of the need for us all, especially coming to this parliament, to work non-stop to stamp out terror wherever we may see it. To the people of Reid of Lebanese descent I again pass on my best wishes. To those at St Joseph's at Croydon, led by Charlie Sara, I look forward to seeing you again shortly. Happy 70th anniversary for Lebanese Independence Day.