This is a copy of the letter which was sent to the Premier of NSW Hon. Barry O’Farrell MP by a number of Arabic Media outlets
Dear Mr Premier,
RE: Upcoming visit by a delegation from New South Wales to Lebanon
We are writing to you with respect to the proposed delegation to be led by you to Lebanon on 13 May 2012.
This delegation follows the recent official visit to Australia by the President of Lebanon, His Excellency Mr Michel Sleiman. It is well known that the president was disappointed with his visit to New South Wales due mainly to the process of selection of guests to his events. We are concerned that he will be even more disappointed with the composition of the proposed delegation.
When a representative of your office called us recently she advised us that she was calling to notify us of the delegation and to let us know that we could go to Lebanon at that time, at our own expense, but we would not be taking part in any of the official meetings. We would however be allowed to take photos. We were further advised that only “leaders of the community” would be members of the delegation.
We find our “invitation” offensive and reject it. We reject it for the same reasons that we rejected the so called invitation to attend the President’s Sydney function “at the media table”. We also reject it because of the loosely defined “community leaders” invitation.
On what criteria do you select community leaders? We have not been advised of that. Is it people who have been elected by their own organisation (sometimes made up of five or six people) or is it people that you yourself consider to be leaders? In the first case this is a farcical selection process. In the second case it smacks of third world processes which we left behind when we came to Australia. It is demeaning to the dignity of the office of the Premier of New South Wales and indicates that office is out of touch with what is going on in the community. The selection of the members of the delegation from the Parliamentary party is further evidence of this.
This official visit to Lebanon will be totally ignored by our media and is another example of a failed opportunity to capitalise on and improve relations with a country that has been a strong source of Australia’s population and contributor to bilateral trade. With respect we suggest that your time would be much better spent with visits by you to the needy regional areas and other communities of New South Wales whose concerns are yet to be addressed.