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Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Page: 11728


Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongThe Treasurer) (17:56): I rise to pay tribute to a great Melburnian and a great Australian, Sisto Malaspina, who bought Pellegrini's with his friend Nino Pangrazio in 1974. Pellegrini's was established in 1954 and was famous for importing Australia's first espresso machine. Now there's an espresso machine on every corner. Sisto turned out to be a custodian for a great Italian tradition in Australia and helped grow Pellegrini's into the institution it is today. Sisto, along with his wife, Vicki, was a constituent of mine in Kooyong, and his only granddaughter, Sofia, was born one week before his death. He was known for his collection of cravats and for his generosity to all those who entered his cafe. One of my electorate staff, Maria Benedetti, tells the story of her son, Nick, turning up at the cafe in his Xavier uniform. He went to pay and Sisto said to him: 'Don't pay now. Come back when you've graduated.'

Sisto wasn't born in Australia, but he represented what Australia is: an accepting, progressive, multicultural, free society. It's best summed up in what he said about his coffee, his passion and his beloved city of Melbourne. As the Prime Minister told the chamber, in Italy they follow a bible when it comes to drinking coffee: Italians usually don't drink cappuccinos after midday, and it's unthinkable to have one after dinner. But, in Australia, Sisto didn't follow those rules. He'd say, 'People should drink their coffee how they like it, the way they like it, when they like it.' As the Prime Minister said, it might sound like a small thing, but that respect for others, tolerance and acceptance of difference are the foundation of modern society and modern Australia, the most successful immigrant country in the entire world and something we should be very proud of.

In a quiet moment before coming back to Canberra just a little while ago, I dropped in to Pellegrini's to have a mandarin granita and to talk to the locals. The mood was very sombre but resilient. The staff came and said hello, and we shared a hug. The message that all the members in this place send to the people of Australia is that events like this shouldn't divide us and events like this shouldn't defeat us. Rather, they should unite us in redoubling our efforts to continue with the things that make Australia great.

Sisto had a smile. Sisto had passion. Sisto was a patriot, and he never forgot his immigrant roots. We pay tribute to Sisto in the nation's parliament today for upholding the very Australian way of life that he, himself, helped create.