Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Matters of Public Importance
Thank you, Minister. We did have a productive conversation yesterday about this issue. As many in the House are aware, I have spoken up about the resettlement of ISIS families among our community in South-West Sydney. In my electorate of Fowler, approximately 10 per cent of my population have escaped war-torn Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and, in particular, escaped the ISIS regime and states. As a former refugee who escaped communist Vietnam, I can empathise with the fears that many members of my community who escaped the atrocities under ISIS have been feeling since hearing the news through the media about the resettlement of a group of people among them. We cannot judge their genuine fears, and we cannot properly relate to what it was like to have lived through and under ISIS.
When Australians hear the word 'ISIS', they immediately connect it to the Lindt Cafe siege which occurred on 15 December 2014 and to the Melbourne stabbing in 2018, both of which shook the entire world. The threat of ISIS to our nation has slipped to the back of the minds of many Australians because our intelligence agencies and authorities have taken action to keep us safe. But, for members of my community, it still keeps them up at night, whether it be the nightmares or the severe trauma they experienced while fleeing their home countries to escape harm. We in this House cannot, and will not, understand the immense impact this decision by the government has had on my community, unless you physically leave your office and travel to south-west Sydney and to Fowler and the surrounding areas to see for yourself the concerns about placing ISIS families within walking distance of those who have experienced Islamic State's direct oppression.
As a member of parliament in the Australian House of Representatives, my job is to represent the views and interests of my constituents in Fowler. Our community is often a quite community, and we do not ask for much because we're so used to not being considered or consulted during the decision-making process on key issues that have a large impact on our community. So, when we do speak up, and when we do want to be heard, I would hope that this government does the right thing and listens. I understand the government has a mandate and wants to do as much as it can in as little time as possible, but I cannot stress enough the importance of dialogue and consultation with a community that is often forgotten by successive governments.
I live and breathe my community of Fowler and will be a constant voice in this House to advocate for them. I understand the minister will be visiting the seat of McMahon following my invitation to visit my Fowler community. I thank the minister for agreeing to my request to hear directly from the community groups who have been traumatised by the ISIS regime. I hope I'll be included in the community forum consultation this week, but even if I am not included I know that the community and I have been successful in getting you, the minister, to come and see south-western Sydney and listen to the concerns. I will continue to facilitate consultation. I will continue to offer my assistance and be the bridge that connects the House and any other major institutions to foster dialogue that will deliver positive outcomes to my diverse community of Fowler. I will hold this government accountable for the decisions that affect my constituents.