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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3244

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (13:46): I was delighted today to join His Excellency Dr Jean Daniel, the Lebanese Ambassador to Australia, along with my parliamentary colleague Daryl Melham, the Chair of the Australia-Lebanon parliamentary group—and you, Mr Speaker—on the lawns outside the ministerial entrance of Parliament House for the planting of a tree. It was not just any tree, particularly for many people in my community. It was a Cedrus libani, a cedar tree—the national tree of Lebanon, the one that is prominent as the centrepiece on the Lebanese national flag. It replaced a tree that had been there for just over 20 years. In 1989 at Parliament House the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, planted a Cedrus libani imported by the Embassy of Lebanon as a bicentennial gift to the people of Australia. It grew quite tall in those 20 years, but it did not survive the recent drought.

The new tree is very small; it barely comes up to your knees. But it is incredibly beautiful, and I know that in coming years it will grow tall and strong, just like the bonds that bind our two countries together—particularly by the many people who migrated here and made Australia their home. Our countries are well and truly bound together. I would also like to thank the staff of the National Arboretum Canberra, who received 200 seeds from Lebanon back in 2009. They tended them and provided the beautiful little tree we planted today.