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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 February 2015
NEWS 2 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Parliament pays tribute to Kostas Nikolopoulos MPs Maria Vamvakinou and Anna Burke honour journalist Kostas Nikolopoulos in a moving session of parliament Federal parliament paid tribute to the late Greek Australian journalist Kostas Nikolopoulos earlier this week. At a gathering of the House of Representatives on Wednesday 25 February, Federal Member for Calwell, MP Maria Vamvakinou recalled the history of Mr Nikolopoulos, recognising his hard work and contributions to the Greek and wider Australian community. "Today I would like to pay tribute to the passing of a great journalist, a community leader and a very dear friend of mine," she said. "It is difficult to express the depth of the loss a community feels when it loses one of its most influential, respected and significant voices. The passing of Kon Nikolopoulos leaves a void in the Australian Greek community that will be near impossible to fill." The 67-year-old's death came as a shock to many, with him losing his battle with a long illness last month on 16 January, 2015 at Epworth Hospital. "I want to thank Kon for the support he gave to me. I could always rely on his sharp mind, objectivity and thorough investigations. His criticisms were always constructive and, if ever harsh, they were certainly fair," said Ms Vamvakinou. She also recognised the journalist’s work at SBS, the Hellenic Herald and Neos Kosmos, along with his powerful activism for causes of social justice, such as multiculturalism, migration, access and equity, and ethnic media. Federal Member for Chrisholm, MP Anna Burke also took the opportunity to honour Mr Nikolopoulos for his extensive work in the community. "There are few people in the Victorian Hellenic community who would not know of Kostas' name or his extensive work. Kostas was a trusted voice dedicated to bringing the news to the community in both English and Greek," she said. "Kostas was a wonderful man whose enormous contribution to our community endured far beyond the limits of his own life. He was an ex- emplary man, a true gentleman and a friend to the entire community. I will miss seeing Kostas at one of the many Greek community functions or just bumping into him at a café in Oakleigh." Alongside Mr Nikolopoulos' contributions as a formidable journalist, both MPs recognised the unwavering commitment he had towards the teaching of the Greek language and culture. It was in part his determination that resulted in the inclusion of Modern Greek in the national languages curriculum, having led a petition signed by a record 24,000 people that was tabled in the House of Representatives in June 2010. Both MPs offered their sincerest condolences to his surviving wife Effie and son Niko, with Ms Burke concluding with a touching promise to the late journalist: "Be assured I will continue to see if you can be recognised with an Australia honour." Kostas Nikolopoulos ‘If you can go to Europe, you can pay HECS’ Greek Australian students weigh in on the controversial statement made by an ANU professor HELEN VELISSARIS Greek Australian students have voiced their anger at comments made by a leading academic saying that if students are able to travel to Europe, they should be able to pay for HECS. Professor Bruce Chapman of the Australian National University argues that students should be asked to pay back at least $2,000 of their outstanding student loan HECS debt if they travel or move to another country for more than six months. "If people can afford to go to Europe or the US and travel around or work then I think they can afford to make this sort of repayment," he told The Australian. With family in both Greece and Italy, her travels have been much more than just for pleasure. The talk of altering the HECS repayment system has irked many current Greek Australian students. La Trobe University arts and accounting student, Tina Halkias, 24, says she wouldn't have been able to travel to Greece to meet her extended family if she was lumped with an upfront payment. Working as a casual at the university, she says a $2,000 fee would put an end to her ability to travel. "I'm only guaranteed two shifts a week, I don't work that often," she tells Neos Kosmos. "So the money I do make I use when I go out, and when I have travelled it's been built up through savings, so if I had to pile a HECS fee on "It's not like I'm going over there to party, it's to meet my family, extend my language," she tells Neos Kosmos. Miss Halkias also agrees. "It's not just a holiday, it's a learning experience," she says. With the cost of an average four-year degree exceeding $18,000, the government's burden in paying for a student's university degree up front is sizeable. Debt to be paid: The government is currently owed $30.6 billion by student graduates. top of that I wouldn't be able to travel." Many students don't classify travel as a holiday. Rather, it's become a necessity as a way to visit family and to figure out if working overseas is right for them. To have the experience catagorised as superfluous doesn't sit well with them. Deakin University student Marietta Margheriti, 21, is about to start her fourth year in her psychology degree and expects to continue with university for a while longer, undertaking a masters as well. According to the December budget figures, the value of outstanding federal student loans is projected to rise from $30.6 billion to more than $52 billion by 2018. Professor Chapman says billing graduates who are working overseas would help the government reap back some of the money they are owed. "My sense is the community does not like high-income earners leaving Australia and in some cases never paying back their student loans," he says. According to The Austral- ian, of the 300,000 Australian students who graduate each year, around 10 per cent work abroad within four years. The Grattan Institute estimates that if the Australian government imposed a flat repayment scheme on expatriate workers, it could recoup $180 million over three years. Currently, students in Australia will only start paying back HECS after they begin earning a salary over $53,345 a year, but if they work overseas and don't file an Australian tax return, they go unnoticed. As a student under the HECS system currently, Miss Halkias has no qualms about paying back the money once she's working full time. "Once you start working, then I can understand paying HECS off slowly," she says.
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