ETHNIC BUSINESS AWARDS
The Hon. MARIE FICARRA
[6.31 p.m.]: Twenty-one years ago Mr Joseph Assaf, one of our greatest ethnic community leaders, had a dream. That dream was to recognise and reward the contributions of migrants to the Australian economy, create understanding and resonate national harmony by highlighting the positive aspects and impacts of multicultural Australia. Joseph spent his years promoting Australia as a key destination to create and sustain business across all sectors of industry, despite race, colour, religion and cultural background, highlighting the collective migrant spirit in Australia and celebrating the diversity of our nation. Joseph Assaf achieved his dream and with the support of his wonderful wife, Angela, to whom he affectionately refers as his angel, he established the Ethnic Business Awards. I pay tribute to the Assafs for their extraordinary work for our community.
Last Monday night at the Four Seasons Hotel, in the presence of Her Excellency the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, AC, we celebrated the twenty-first anniversary of the awards. There were 1,500 nominations. The finalists in the Small Business Category included Roland Jabbour, formerly of Lebanon, and founder of Jabbour Holdings; Lindy Chen, formerly of China, who established China Direct Sourcing Services Pty Ltd; Giuseppe Guigni, formerly of Italy, and founder of Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets Pty Ltd; Josette Robert, formerly of Mauritius, and founder of JR Global Logistics Pty Ltd; and Elizabeth Green, formerly of Ireland, who established Mixology Management Pty Ltd. The winner of the Small Business Category was Giuseppe Guigni.
My adviser, Councillor Vincent De Luca, OAM, had the privilege of sitting with Giuseppe at the awards dinner and described him as "a humble and wonderful man". From small beginnings the Australian Capital Territory Fresh Food Markets now feature 33 different stallholders of 15 different nationalities. Currently it is undergoing a $16 million redevelopment. Originally from Colda in the province of Sondrio, Italy, Giuseppe Guigni left school early and cites his tertiary education as life experience, self-taught. He worked in a Sydney fruit market and then in several other trades before managing to open his own stores. Giuseppe has contributed significantly to charity and has raised thousands of dollars for a range of good community causes.
In the Medium to Large Business Category the finalists were: Paul Bitdorf, formerly from Poland, who established the Australian Property Alliance; Marko Franovic, formerly of Croatia, who established the Boka Group; Ali and Manel Hammoud, formerly of Lebanon, who founded Ella Rouge Beauty; Antonio Romeo, formerly of Italy, who formed Romeo's Retail Group; and Khaled El-Sheikh, formerly of Egypt, who established the Tri-Star Medical Group. Marko Franovic of the Boka Group won the Medium to Large Business Award. Despite being housed in a detention camp on arrival in Australia after escaping the Communist regime in former Yugoslavia, he has gone on to thrive in Australia. He escaped the Tito regime, fleeing from Italy and ending up in the Bonegilla detention camp near Albury.
Marko, joined by his two brothers, established the family's Boka Group, which is an industry leader in property management and window installation, turning over several million dollars a year. Ali and Manel Hammoud, who left Lebanon in 1987 as war refugees, won the initiative award. Both went on to establish Ella Rouge Beauty, which has quickly become an industry leader in laser hair removal. These awards could not have been possible without the generosity of the sponsors: NAB, Etihad Airways, Telstra, Austrade, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Four Seasons Hotels, Doric, MBF, Fair Word, Astra Limousines Australia, SBS, Australia Network, Aurora Community Channel, TVBA, Sing Tao Daily, Design Awards, El-Telegraph
, Chinese Newspaper Group, Indian Link, Chieu Duong, the Sydney Korean Herald
and Neos Kosmos. Thanks go also to the judging panel: Don Argus, Even Crestani, Allan Gyngell, Ziggy Switkowski and Carla Zampatti. Congratulations all round to the wonderful contributions made by these successful Australians showcasing the value of diversity in our great State and nation.