Peter Khalil: A very brave young man is home today. It’s a great news story, but it’s something that has involved the entire community and this parliament as well. Hakeem al-Araibi has landed in Melbourne. After four months of detention in Thailand, he’s home to his country, Australia—and we’re so happy to have him here. He was detained because he was under extradition orders from Bahrain, a country he fled because he stood up for democracy and human rights and was tortured and paid the price for it. He is now back home in Australia where he should be.
What happened was something very special. The entire community got together. He wasn’t going to be forgotten by his teammates on the pitch; he wasn’t going to be forgotten by this parliament and our leadership here; he wasn’t going to be forgotten by the community that loves him so much. With the incredible leadership of Craig Foster, or ‘Foz’, who raised his public profile, a campaign to save Hakeem was born several months ago. We all joined it, and the world knew about it.
I want to thank Labor leader Bill Shorten, Senator Penny Wong, the Prime Minister, and the foreign minister, Marise Payne, for working together to seek the release of Hakeem, because it wasn’t inevitable that he’d come back. At any moment we could have lost this young man forever. Through the work of Craig, this parliament, our leadership and the local community, he is back home where he belongs. His family and the broader football family will welcome him back at the Pascoe Vale Football Club, which is in my electorate—and I can’t wait for the first round!