A former dolphin trainer, Buddhist monk, cafe owner and police officer has begun his new career as a parliamentarian by pledging to restore peace, love, unity and respect to the House of Representatives.
At the May election, Sam Lim became the first Labor MP to represent the West Australian seat of Tangney in 39 years.
Mr Lim ousted Liberal MP Ben Morton, a close confidant of former prime minister Scott Morrison, and was among four Labor MPs to turn blue seats red in the west.
Born in Malaysia, Mr Lim worked as a dolphin trainer at a safari park, a job he described as “the best in his life” and the animals as “loving, beautiful, cheeky and very intelligent”.
When the safari park closed, Mr Lim said goodbye to his dolphin friends but was happy they were returned to their ocean home to be wild and free.
Mr Lim also detailed his time as a Buddhist monk in northern Thailand where he shaved his head, ate simply and took a vow of silence for 25 days.
“During this time, I experienced absolute peace. Peace that radiates from within,” he said.
“It is an experience that I still reflect on and find peace in solitude and contentment in helping others.”
Many of the migrants living in Mr Lim’s electorate are from war-torn countries who came to Australia in search of peace.
“The cost of war is too much to bear, we must learn from history (and) we must learn from those mistakes,” he said.
Mr Lim urged his parliamentary colleagues to propagate peace in their communities and other nations.
“Beating war drums is a foolish exercise. I do not believe that war is a way to resolve human problems,” he said.
“Peace, love, unity, respect. These are simple but meaningful words to live by.”
Another new Labor MP Cassandra Fernando used her first speech to share her family’s migration story from Sri Lanka to Australia.
Representing the seat of Holt in southeast Melbourne, Ms Fernando shared how community organisations stepped up to support her family when they arrived in Australia.
“Australia has given my family and I a home, a community and a purpose (and) there is no honour more profound than serving my fellow Australians,” she said.
A former pastry chef and Woolies worker, Ms Fernando said she was passionate about representing fast food and retail employees and helping migrants access services they need to succeed.
“I put my hand up to be a member of the House of Representatives to ensure we as parliamentarians will always look out for those less fortunate than ourselves,” she said.
“One day they will look after those less fortunate than them. This is the Australian way.”