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Mrs Margie Abbott, Mr Milad Raad (Charges d’Affaires ad interim Lebanese Embassy Canberra); General Consul George Bitar Ghanem (Sydney Lebanese Consulate); the Hon Adrian Piccoli MP, Minister for Education; Bishop Antoine Tarabay; Prof Fadia Ghossayn (ALF President), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be here this evening to represent the Prime Minister, The Honourable Tony Abbott at the 2014 Australian Lebanese Foundation Scholarship Dinner at the University of Sydney.
The Prime Minister is unable to join us this evening, however, he has sent a message to congratulate all of you, which I would now like to read:
“Tonight celebrates students who have shown self-discipline, energy and the determination to excel.
Cecil Rhodes, the father of the Rhodes Scholarship, believed that universities exemplified the ideal of a community of scholars engaged in the disinterested pursuit of truth and knowledge for its own sake.
These scholarships offer recipients the chance to embrace this ideal. In turn, many recipients will use their experiences to inspire the best in others.
I acknowledge the Australian Lebanese Foundation of its continuing support of these scholarships.
I congratulate all recipients and I wish everybody an enjoyable evening.”
As the Federal Member for Barton, I would like to congratulate each and every one of you here tonight on your achievements which are the rewards of hard work, determination and drive. I am privileged to celebrate with you the achievements of these outstanding young men and women of Lebanese descent.
Through the outstanding work of the Australian Lebanese Foundation, the bonds between Australian and Lebanese people are strengthened. We see this through the cultural exchange and the fostering of academic excellence between the University of Sydney and the Lebanese University which provide scholarship recipients an exciting start to their future. The rapport between two exceptional tertiary institutions contributes enormously to the Australian Lebanese community not just within the University of Sydney but also to our multicultural society.
Australia is a proud nation of diversity, and my own electorate of Barton has a distinct Lebanese community. By enabling and nurturing a culture of merit and achievement so that all individuals are given equal access to opportunities to fulfil their true potential, the University of Sydney is to be commended for establishing the Australian Lebanese Foundation. It exemplifies the ethos that Australia is a nation of hope and opportunity. It celebrates the cultivation of its youth and the integration of community. We can see the outcomes of this initiative tonight when academic collaboration and cultural exchange amalgamate to enable those to enrich their lives through education. I have no doubt that recipients of this scholarship will further encourage others to achieve their best.
Australia is a nation of opportunity and reward, and we are limitless in what we strive to achieve. The young men and women here this evening remind us that anything is possible with ambition and fortitude. The power of education lies within the ability to be challenged, to allow for innovation which in turn, benefits society. I am proud of each of the deserving recipients in this room tonight and wish you all my very best.