16 September 2019


I'm delighted and honoured to rise today to acknowledge the Australian Baha'i community, and in particular I extend the appreciation and support of this House to these people of peace, harmony and generosity. I wish to acknowledge the representatives who are tuning in and also those who are here today, including Dr Natalie Mobini, who I understand is in the gallery.

Australia is a successful model of diversity, and those of us here who are lucky to represent diverse electorates have the privilege of experiencing the success of our plurality every day. My electorate of Greenway in north-west Sydney is home to many different cultures and religions, and in communities such as mine, where cultural practices and theological views may differ, one thing is constant: respect is afforded to all. I say with very deep sincerity: the Baha'i community personify respect in their every action, with their enduring values of inclusivity and acceptance as core tenets of their belief system. It is accurate to say that the teachings of the Baha'i in this regard are intrinsically Australian values. In the promulgation of universal peace, 'Abdu'l-Baha's beautiful description of the oneness of humanity as being 'like that of a tree—the nations or peoples are the different limbs and the individual human creatures are the fruits and blossoms,' should serve as a reminder of our common ground. For parliamentarians in this place, often considering very contentious issues and in sometimes a most adversarial environment, I can think of no more important lesson than finding common ground—a lesson we should learn from our Baha'i constituents.

The Baha'i are also called to public service—a call that everyone in this place is familiar with. The pursuit of a world without prejudice, where women are afforded the same opportunities as men and all people live in the peace graced to them by their innate human dignity, are values that we Australians hold dear. All people, irrespective of their ethnic or cultural backgrounds or religious beliefs, should be afforded the right to live and worship peacefully. The persecution of the Baha'i community is a travesty. It is an affront to their human rights. As Australians we should stand with those who seek to manifest their beliefs peacefully and, as I said, respectfully. To that end, I extend my prayers and support to all people of the Baha'i faith who have experienced, or are or know those who are experiencing, religious persecution. I call on those in position of power to take action to stamp out this discrimination in all its manifestations. This motion is a good start.

On behalf of my community, I would like to extend my best wishes to the Australian Baha'is on the upcoming bicentenary of the Baha'i faith and the birth of its founder, the Bab, in October this year. From my own experience, having attended the birthday celebrations in Silverwater in previous years, I know that this will be an opportunity for spiritual enlightenment and a refocusing on the Baha'i mission. I have always felt the warm welcome of the community at every Baha'i event that I have attended. It is a testament to your openness, your generosity and your hospitality. I hope that you enjoy this momentous occasion and take stock of your contribution to the diverse fabric of our Australian society.

In conclusion, I would like to personally thank Behzad Mirzaei, Vincent Takizad and Matt Shahidi, whom I have met with on several occasions and only recently, and the entire Blacktown Baha'i community. Over the years I have had the privilege of working closely with the Blacktown Baha'is, particularly at my annual Harmony Day morning teas. Again, I say most sincerely, now and again as a member of parliament you meet people who have an immediate impact for no other reason than simply wanting to share with you their beliefs and their faiths—no particular ask, but, as the previous speaker said, just the desire to explain, to be open and to extend hospitality. Thank you for doing that. It is something special. At every meeting I am left spiritually enriched.

Your devotion to community, your acceptance of others and your positive spirit help make Greenway one of the best places to live. It is only fitting that this place should extend the same warmth and appreciation to you. Congratulations and may you be blessed on the glorious occasion of your bicentenary.