PM celebrates ties as ALCC supports Lebanon through pandemic, Beirut rebuilding
26 Nov 2020
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - M E Times Int'l: THE Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce (ALCC) held its 35th anniversary dinner on Saturday, November 21, at Doltone House in Sydney in partnership with Arab Bank Australia. The night was sponsored by Etihad Airways. Beirut’s slow and painful recovery from the devastating August 4 explosion was very much in people’s minds as was the covid pandemic. Two charities that the ALCC recognised at the reception were Steps of Hope and St Merkorious Charity. Both have done excellent work locally and to support the people of Beirut. Due to pandemic restrictions, the ALCC had been unable to hold its annual business awards earlier this year. Among the attendees were Hon. John Ajaka MLC (president of the Legislative Council of NSW); Consul General of Lebanon H.E Charbel Macron, Hon. Philip Ruddock (mayor of Hornsby Council), Joe Khattar (President of the ALCC), Michel Duweihi (regional president of World Lebanese Cultural Union), Geoff Wild (chairman of the Arab Bank Australia), Joe Rizk (CEO of the Arab Bank Australia), Sarkis Nassif (president of the World Patriarchal Maronite Foundation for Integral Development in Australia), community and media representatives, members of the chamber and other business figures. Michael Rizk, the director of international relations in the ALCC, made three wonderful paintings that were presented for auction on the night.
THE Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, offered his congratulations to the ALCC for reaching its milestone.
“Australia’s relations with Lebanon have deepened over generations and been strengthened by ongoing people-to-people links. Your work is a celebration of Australia’s long-standing cultural and economic ties with Lebanon.”
PM Morrison described Lebanon as “the most successful multi-cultural nation on Earth” because of the personal ties that organisations like the ALCC built on trade, business and community levels.
“In the wake of the tragic explosion in Beirut and the ongoing health crisis, I know this is a difficult time for Australians of Lebanese descent. In the long history of Lebanon, this has been a year like few others. A time of testing that will not be forgotten.”
MP Morrison said the ALCC had “responded to the moment” and paid tribute to their support they had shown to the people of Lebanon.
A former immigration minister (1996-2003) and Attorney-General of Australia (2003-07), Philip Ruddock thanked the leadership and management of the ALCC in his speech.
The Hornsby Mayor praised the Lebanese community and its contribution to building Australia and for providing many people who had a distinguished service in public life such as MPs, premiers and governors.
Mr Ruddock also touched on his visit to Lebanon for the reopening of the Australian embassy in Beirut in 1995 and passed on what he saw during his visit to regions in the south, the Bekaa and the north, especially downtown Beirut, rebuilt after the destruction of war.
On the August 4 explosion at Beirut Port, he noted that the reconstruction process was still in its infancy and has a long road to go. He suggested that chamber management promote awareness of this tragedy on a large scale by speaking to non-Lebanese to seek assistance for reconstruction.
Other speakers on the night included:
MC Paul Nicolau: “Can I thank the partner of the chamber, the Arab Bank of Australia, for their long and continuing support. It’s great that there are so many businesses and sponsors that have supported the chamber because without the support of these businesses, the chamber wouldn’t be able to do the important work that they do.”
Fred Deiri, vice-president of the ALCC: “The ALCC, together with a large number of people in the Australian-Lebanese community as well as friends and supporters from the wider community, mobilised all the efforts possible to help the people in Beirut. Relief aid was urgently to help ease the pain of the thousands affected. We, as a chamber, feel extremely proud to see how people have responded by offering their support, whether in the form of monetary, food and medical supplied. In addition, the Australian Government sent three aircraft loads of supplies to Beirut.
“The chamber together with Australian consulting engineers, Dasco, Australian Medical Association and Deicorp were, and are, physically on the ground to help restore and refurbish homes, businesses, schools and hospitals. The chamber, along with some members of the community, arranged the first shipment of Australian veal for the Lebanese Army, as well as a very large shipment of almost 400 tonnes of relief aid.
“All in all, the journey ahead remains a long one … we will continue to offer our help to the people of Beirut … The support and helping hand that is needed in Lebanon will be a marathon and not a sprint, and the chamber recognises this. We are committed to continuing this support, offering a helping hand for Beirut and its people.”
Anthony Hasham: “Every November marks the end of the season but tonight, contrary to all our past events, is different and significant.”
Lebanon Consul General Charbel Macron: “The Australian Government, and the NSW Government, as well as Australian citizens stood by Lebanon and the Lebanese people, and for that we are grateful. The explosion took an emotional toll on Lebanese citizens all over the world and particularly here in Australia. ”
Peter Bader, ALCC member: “What happened on August 4 in Beirut was a horrific and tragic event but the international community efforts in assisting with rebuilding have been overwhelming. What has also happened at home that we can’t forget: covid-19 has also mobilised many to readapt services and engage with those less fortunate when all things stopped.”