By NSW Premier Mike Baird @MikeBairdMP
As we mark one year since the 2015 NSW election it was great to welcome one of the many refugee families due to arrive in Australia as part of our commitment to resettle more women, children and families fleeing the conflict in Syria.
I invited the Kaky family to my office in the NSW Parliament to personally welcome them and hear about how they came to arrive in our country. They are the human faces who represent the human story of what the refugee intake is all about.
About 80 refugee families have arrived in the state, and the Kaky family are four of 12,000 refugees who will be resettled in Australia as part of a one-off increased intake of people impacted by the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria.
Iptesam and Ayad arrived in Australia last week with their two children, Mark and Rita, and have a life story that many of us can barely comprehend.
As Christians in Iraq, they were persecuted as a minority. When ISIS took their home city of Mosul, they were told they needed to convert to Islam or pay taxes they couldn’t afford. They were repeatedly threatened with death.
They fled their home in July 2014 and found themselves in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Finally, their prayers were answered and they found themselves with an opportunity for a new life here in Australia.
When I met with Ayad, he told me his priorities were to learn English, find work, enrol his children in school and contribute to his new community. He’s an art teacher and I’m sure he’s got as much to teach his community as he has to learn from it.
There’s no point having the strongest economy in the nation if we don’t care for society’s most vulnerable, both within and beyond our borders.
I’m proud of the generous spirit that I see in people right across this state.
I’m proud that we can welcome refugees who are in desperate need of a fresh start, and I’m proud Iptesam, Ayad, Mark and Rita can now call NSW home.
In other news, this week marks one year since the state election and it was great to celebrate the milestone by heading out to West Pennant Hills with Roads Minister Duncan Gay to inspect the NorthConnex project site where tunnelling is due to begin within weeks.
The $3 billion NorthConnex motorway will be the next major infrastructure project in NSW and will create 8,700 jobs during construction – providing immediate and long-term benefits to the state’s economy.
Twin nine-kilometre tunnels will link the M1 and M2, which will improve travel times for motorists and take thousands of trucks off the clogged Pennant Hills Road every day.
We’re wasting no time delivering on the promises we made before the 2015 election and are continuing to build new infrastructure, deliver better services and ensure NSW is Australia’s strongest economy.
I am proud of what we have achieved for the people of NSW. We have already delivered about 90 of almost 400 commitments made at the election, and we’re seeing real outcomes that are making a difference to people’s lives.