HAZEM EL MASRI RUGBY LEAGUE RECORD
Ms LINDA BURNEY
(Canterbury—Minister for Community Services) [6.15 p.m.]: As the proud member for Canterbury, I will talk tonight about an icon in our area. On 14 March, Canterbury Bulldogs star Hazem El Masri kicked his way into Australian Rugby League's history books by becoming the highest points scorer in the 101-year history of rugby league in New South Wales. Hazem El Masri surpassed ex-Newcastle legend Andrew Johns' tally of 2,176 points. What makes this especially significant is that Hazem El Masri broke the record whilst the Bulldogs were disposing of last year's premiers, the Manly Sea Eagles, 34 to 12 at Brookvale Oval. Following last week's hard-fought win against the Panthers, Hazem's score is currently at 2,192. That includes scoring 145 tries. I know there was some controversy in that game, but let us stick with the theme.
In my inaugural speech to Parliament in May 2003, I said that blood flows blue and white in Canterbury. No matter what anyone else says, we love the Doggies—and don't you forget it! Also in my inaugural speech I spoke about Hazem El Masri and what he represents in an area like Canterbury. He represents the migrants' story. He also represents decency, and that is why he is held in such high regard not only in our area but across New South Wales and Australia. As the member for Canterbury I have had the privilege of attending a few Bulldogs home games and have witnessed the man they call "El Magic" score many fantastic tries and, of course, kick many goals. After the first two games of the season he has a 100 per cent scoring rate.
Some career highlights of Hazem El Masri that stick out in my mind include him barging over the line for his 100th try when playing against the Roosters in the 2004 grand final. I was there that night and I will always remember it. Before that, in 2002, who could forget Hazem's kick from the sideline at full-time in front of 25,000 screaming Knights fans, which saw his team win 22 to 21? He did it again last Saturday at Penrith, with a final-minute conversion against the Panthers to seal a 28 to 26 victory. What is particularly impressive about his latest record is that Hazem El Masri has not always been the full-time goal kicker for the Bulldogs. He took over as goalkeeper from Darryl Halligan in 2001. One can only imagine what his points total would be if he had been the kicker from his debut season.
Hazem debuted in 1996 for the Bulldogs first-grade team but did not have a regular spot in the squad until 1998. He was born in Lebanon and migrated to Australia as a young child in 1988. He played soccer for eight years and, in his senior years, decided to make the switch to rugby league. He is a local boy, who attended Belmore High School. He is devout in his faith and is widely respected in his community. He does a lot of very important work with young people because of who he is and how he conducts himself. Hazem El Masri is married with three children, and I had the great pleasure of meeting his wife just a few weeks ago.
His representative career has seen Hazem El Masri captain the Lebanese team in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, play for city in City versus Country Origin, play in game three of the 2007 State of Origin series, and play for the Australian team against New Zealand in 2002. I am sure that we will see him again this year in the State of Origin series—if not, it will be a crime! I extend my congratulations to Hazem El Masri on achieving this amazing milestone. As the member for Canterbury, I say he is an icon. It has given me a great deal of pleasure to be able to make this tribute and to have him represent the people of Canterbury. I wish him and the Bulldogs the best of luck this season—and I am not one-eyed!
Mr BARRY COLLIER
(Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.20 p.m.]: I thank the Minister for Community Services for bringing to the attention of the House the outstanding performances of Hazem El Masri. He is a member of a great club—the Canterbury club, or the Bulldogs. Indeed, when I was a kid living at Revesby and I followed them, they were called the Berries. I eventually crossed the river and became a Sharks fan, but I am sure that every fan would be aware of and acknowledge the fabulous performances of Hazem El Masri. As the Minister said, he is an icon of the game. On behalf of every member of the House, all the Sharks fans and everyone who follows rugby league, I join the Minister in congratulating Hazem El Masri on a fabulous career. No doubt he will continue to perform for what is a truly great club, the Bulldogs.