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The ALHS constitution adopted at the 2017 AGM makes possible the formation of local branches. In July, with the approval of the ALHS board, members in North Queensland formed a branch of the Society. Branch Chair, Ray Holyoak, who is now a member of the ALHS board, said the group intended to collect and collate the history of early Lebanese migrants so their contribution to the nation’s history could be recognised and preserved.
Lebanese immigrants were among the early pioneers to North and Far North Queensland. Surnames such as Mellick, Nasser, Arida, Anthony and Katter are prominent in the history of the North’s development. Because of labour restrictions on non-Europeans – part of the White Australia Policy – most migrants from the Middle East earned a living from hawking or retailing. Two serving federal MPs, Cathy O’Toole (Labor Member for Herbert) and Bob Katter (Member for Kennedy), are descended from Lebanese immigrants.
As Ray explained, branch members “are keen to interview living relatives of Lebanese immigrants here in the North and Far North before that important history is lost.” For more information, contact Ray Holyoak at [email protected]
This is an exciting development for the Society. We applaud the initiative and enthusiasm of our North Queensland members and look forward to hearing more about their activities.