House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Statements by Members

Swan Electorate: Mr Gem Gautam

4:16 pm

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As you know, all of our electorates have characters, and I rise to talk about one of my constituents, Gem Gautam. Gem is the owner of the Busy Bee Deli in the suburb of Como in my electorate. It is a popular corner deli frequently visited by locals. Constituents often comment to me on how caring and friendly Gem is and how much they love his deli, which is more of a mini-market catering to the local community.

Gem bought the Busy Bee Deli in May 2014 and worked hard to develop the great relationships he has with his customers. Sadly, in 2015 a fire which began in the adjoining shop caused extensive damage to Gem's deli and destroyed most of the shop and the produce. Unfortunately, Gem was not able to save the shop and had to close the deli, which he worked so hard to build to become a local identity. Gem's enthusiasm for his community has not wavered and he began the Busy Bee Deli Bushfire Relief Team to raise funds for the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund because he could really understand what it was like to lose everything he worked so hard for in a fire.

Gem would set up a drinks stall outside his shop and visit the local park on weekends to sell soft drink and water to raise money for the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund in response to the Yarloop bushfires, which destroyed more than 180 properties and burnt through about 70,000 hectares of forest and farmland around Waroona and Harvey in Western Australia.

I am pleased to say that, after about a year with no deli, Gem has received the keys to the shop and is planning on reopening this month. I am sure that the local Como community will be pleased to see Gem behind the counter again. I know the hardworking South Perth MLA John McGrath was also aware of Gem's unfortunate events and I thank him for the support he showed Gem and his family during that time.

But Gem story does not end there. I met with Gem at the end of last month, and he shared with me a story that took him all the way back to India. While out of work, Gem visited a garage sale near his house where he came across a medieval Indian manuscript. Gem tells me the manuscript is handwritten in Sanskrit, which is the ancient of Hinduism, and has 400 double-sided pages. In September this year Gem travelled to India to meet experts in the field who all told him the manuscript was quite a find. Gem is still trying to find information and understand the cultural significance of the manuscript and I wish him luck in his endeavour. He has recently had the manuscript carbon-dated and it has been dated back to, plus or minus 55 years, 1725 A.D.

The actual manuscript is covered in engraved wood. I have a copy of the pages which he has given to me. He has had one collector in Australia, based on the carbon dating, offer $15 million for it. He wants to have it translated so he can see whether the value of the book might be higher. He has offered it to the Indian government. I will keep the house informed on how it progresses.