Mr CLARE (Blaxland) (13:39): Anyone with Lebanese blood in their veins lives with the heartache of what’s happened to Lebanon over the last few decades—the civil war, the bombings, the violence, the assassinations, the interference of foreign powers, the influx of refugees, the corruption, the virus and now this. Anyone with Lebanese blood in their veins won’t forget the awful images of that blast or the time they spent afterwards on the phone and online desperately trying to find out if family and friends were alive or dead.
But Lebanese Australians are made of tough stuff. They are resilient and generous, and you can see that now in my community, a home for so many Lebanese Australians. Everyone’s chipping in, donating and raising money. The Maronite eparchy, the Lebanese Muslim Association, the Melkites and the Lebanese Orthodox community are all working together to raise funds. Human Appeal and Steps of Hope are on the ground in Beirut, helping out as we speak. The federal government is helping as well, and I know that the help is gratefully received.
Australian soldiers were in Lebanon in 1941, almost 80 years ago. They helped liberate it. Four hundred and sixteen Australians died in that campaign, and the first of them was a boy from Ballina called Nicholas Koorey, a proud Australian with Lebanese blood in his veins. He’s buried in that same city that now needs to be rebuilt, Beirut. Just like those soldiers, Lebanese Australians are doing everything they can to help.