An Iranian migrant has confronted Malcolm Turnbull over refugees, calling for unity while receiving an innovation award from the prime minister.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has presented an innovation award to an Iranian migrant who used the opportunity to express concerns about the treatment of refugees.
Peter Puya Abolfathi won the innovation in technology gong at the national disability awards on Monday.
The biomedical engineer, who came to Australia when he was 12 as a migrant after the Iran-Iraq war, was recognised for developing a technology which helps bring function to a paralysed or damaged hand.
Mr Turnbull presented the accolade at a ceremony in Parliament House to Dr Abolfathi, who in his speech noted Australia was a welcoming country and called for “controversies about borders, race and relations” to be put aside.
“This is one of the best places to be as a migrant and let’s keep it that way,” he said.
Dr Abolfathi later told AAP he wanted to make a point about social harmony standing next to the prime minister.
He expressed concern over the government’s forthcoming legislation banning boat-arriving refugees from ever entering the country.
“I wanted to say, “look you can come to the outside and be a contributor to this society and let’s not forget that we’re a welcoming society”‘.
Dr Abolfathi started a new life in Australia with his family in the late 1980s with a big focus on education.
“Since I was a child I always dreamed of being an inventor and making the world a better place,” he said.
“I’ve kept that dream up and I still want to keep going.”
He wants the technology, Exoflex, to eventually help people walk out of wheelchairs.