House debates

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Statements by Members

Beirut: Explosion

1:33 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to express my sadness and shock at the horrific explosion in Beirut earlier this month and to express my commiserations and solidarity with the people of Lebanon and the Lebanese Australian community. 2020 has been a horrific year, and nowhere more so than for the people of Beirut. Six thousand people have been injured and more than 160 people killed, including, tragically, one Australian, two-year-old Isaac Oehlers. Like many members' electorates, my electorate is home to a thriving Lebanese Australian diaspora who have contributed so much to our community, so the pain and trauma in Beirut was felt acutely in our own community, on the other side of the world.

I want to quickly highlight some of the incredible solidarity that's been shown in Australia towards those who have suffered. Tom Sarafian, head chef at Bar Saracen, with the assistance of his partner, Jinane Bou-Assi—a former Labor staffer in this building, well known to many in this place—set out to raise $10,000 for the Lebanese Red Cross by making and selling their famous hummus. In the event, they more than doubled it, raising $20,000 by selling 300 kilograms of hummus. I know from my Instagram that a reasonable amount ended up in Williamstown in my electorate, where we are proud to be home to one of the Melbourne Lebanese diaspora's favourite sons, our former Premier Steve Bracks—and I've heard that Terry Bracks in particular was an enthusiastic supporter. So I want to express my thanks to everyone who was a part of it. There are too many to mention here today, but I thank all who helped provide a desperately needed helping hand from Melbourne to Beirut, with love.