House debates

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Statements by Members

Beirut: Explosion

1:41 pm

Photo of Fiona MartinFiona Martin (Reid, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to extend my sympathies to those who have experienced the tragic loss of loved ones following the two large blasts in Beirut on 4 August. We've all seen the horrific vision and the extensive damage across the city. Many who have survived are now dealing with physical injuries and psychological trauma. My electorate of Reid has a large number of Lebanese Australians, and they make up more than 230,000 Australians of Lebanese heritage who are mourning this tragedy. I personally know constituents who have had family and friends affected by the explosion. I especially extend my condolences to the family of Australian toddler Isaac Oehlers, who tragically died in the explosion.

Religious groups in Reid have come together in prayer and goodwill. I would like to acknowledge their fundraising efforts—in particular, Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, the eparch of the Maronite Diocese of St Maroun, and Mr Samier Dandan, President of the Lebanese Muslim Association. I would also like to acknowledge Mr Tony Ishak of Radio 2Moro.

The explosion has compounded many issues facing Lebanon—an impending economic collapse, corruption, poverty, famine and a global pandemic. For this reason, the Australian government moved quickly to commit $5 million in humanitarian assistance, which has been provided through international organisations. The Australian Defence Force has also delivered urgently needed humanitarian supplies to be used on the ground in Beirut. We will continue to provide support to Lebanon in this period of recovery and know that their spirit of resilience will see them overcome this period of devastation.