Tony at work on the oil rig Cobia, destined for Bass Strait drilling, in 1982.
Source: Museum Victoria Palestinian Community Photographic Collection

I was among the first Palestinian immigrants to arrive by plane in Australia in 1964. I arrived alone from my hometown, Beit Jala, a village between Bethlehem and Jerusalem where most of the people are Christian like me.

Beit Jalans have been coming here ever since, and in 1988 we formed an association of about 100 families for social and cultural activities. In the 1970s and 1980s, I used to write articles on the Palestinian cause and send them to Australian newspapers – they would publish one or two. In my opinion the media was biased and Palestinians were not given a fair go. This is a beautiful country full of beautiful people, but the politicians just follow the Americans wherever they go.

One of my best memories in Australia is when I helped construct the oil and gas platforms in the Bass Strait. I was a welder on the pipeline that ran to Sale, working on a barge called Choctaw. Our work had to pass the toughest checks, like the magnetic particle test. I worked 12 hours a day, five days a week, and my work passed those tests.

I did my part in building this country. But in retirement, I still call Palestine home.