Tony Burke attended the ordination of Bishop Antoine Tarabay as the fourth Maronite Bishop of Australia in Bkerke, Lebanon.
“It was a privilege to attend this celebration such as this and it is a tribute to the strength and solidarity of the Maronite community in Australia,” Mr Burke said.
“While in Lebanon, I had the privilege of receiving a gift to Australia.
“I had the opportunity to stand in the gardens of the Presidential Palace in Lebanon, and beside a cedar tree and an olive tree planted an Australian gum tree.
“In a few weeks time, I will, for the first time, plant a Lebanese cedar on the grounds of the Lodge, the official Prime Ministerial residence in Canberra.
“This is a significant step for the Lebanese community in Australia and the Prime Minister will ask Bishop Tarabay to join me in recognising this important landmark.
“Now, when the westerly winds blow through Canberra, the eucalyptus gum leaves will fall and they will land side by side with the needles of the leaves of the cedar of Lebanon.
“In Lebanon, in the Presidential Palace, the roots of the cedars of Lebanon will intertwine with an Australian Eucalypt, criss-crossing their way in the same soil on which stood the apostles, the gum tree’s roots forever bound with those of the cedar of Lebanon.”