Australia Day ambassador Belal Moraby spoke at a Citizenship Ceremony at Prospect Town Hall on January 25. Here is his speech.
Good Evening. My name is Belal Moraby.
I’m a lawyer at Tindall Gask Bentley. I was born here in Adelaide. I’m a proud South Aussie. I’m a Muslim and a fisherman.
My mother is from country NSW and my father was born in Lebanon and has been Australian for over 40 years.
I am a very proud Australian.
So what does it mean to be Australian?
There’s no one answer to this question.
It means having an easy-going and laid back attitude. Still working hard, but enjoying ourselves at the same time.
It means freedom – making our own choices whilst respecting others.
I feel very proud to be part of a community that is accepting of all religions and ethnic minorities. I have the freedom to practice my religion whilst at the same time be a proud Australian and contribute toward my community. Regardless of colour or creed, Australians, strive to be part of society, to work hard, raise families, and enjoy their lives. Being Australian means being part of a diverse group of people in a very special place tucked away from the rest of the world.
I am quite fortunate in that I write Wills for Muslims and the only reason why I can is because we have a flexible legal system. I can write wills consistent with Australian laws. We have to bear in mind that whilst we treasure our culture and values, from all over the world, we must adhere to the laws of our country. And we have a duty to give back to our country. This is part of being Australian.
I have been lucky enough to travel around the world and in the last two years I have been in Tunisia and Lebanon. I was in Tunisia in January 2011 when the Government there fell and the President fled. I was fortunate in that I got the last flight out of the country before the Airport shut down. I would’ve been stuck otherwise. Arriving in Melbourne and hearing the Customs official say “G’day” made me feel a million bucks. Until I passed through Immigration and got into a Taxi and the taxi driver didn’t know where Collins Street was and then I felt about ten bucks (down the drain).
Then in Lebanon a couple of weeks back I was enjoying a fresh cup of coffee in my Aunty’s place when I heard machine gun fire erupt in the Fish Market which I happened to visit the previous day. My Aunty said to me don’t look out the window! I was tempted.
Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling and really enjoy spending time in different countries but I always feel special when I come back to Australia.
I don’t know whether it’s the air, or the people, or the land, or all three.
Here in Australia, you can walk around in a park or at the beach with only a handful of people around. In many countries in Asia or Europe you have a hard enough time trying to find a spot to sit. Let alone working out how to drive to particular place or whether or not to tip at a restaurant.
We have beaches, mountains, rivers, good fishing spots – you name it we have it.
And as for SA, who would say no to a Farmers Union Iced Coffee and a Cornish Pastie on the way to Yorkes. Or perhaps a Lamington on the way to woop woop..
It doesn’t get much better.
And as for Australians, whether the topic is sport, politics, food or religion we can discuss these topics in a peaceful setting. You generally don’t see people get carried away or Police arresting someone for disagreeing with the Prime Minister on any given issue.
We value life, community and individuals.
That’s what it means to be Australian to me.
I welcome our new Citizens and wish you all the best – I am sure you will grow to love the country just like I do.