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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 1 August 2015
6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 AUGUST 2015 NEWS Giving back CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 "The Friends group exists as an association of directors across Australia, we don't have offices. It started as an Aussie initiative but morphed into an international one last year as a result of a waste recycling project introduced on the island. "We called for donations and within three weeks we'd raised $50,000, most of it from Australia," says Mitaros. "We bought an electric buggy and it goes around twice a day to all the restaurants and houses picking up all the plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans. That project employs two people, and on an island with such a small population, every job is important." With a not-for-profit (Drasi Kastellorizou) established by local residents, the Friends group have a direct channel for identifying priorities and managing funds. "They identify the projects that are most important and then we go to the diaspora and Philhellenes," says Mitaros. "People choose different projects to fund. We're planning to start a honey farm up in the mountains and someone will put their hand up for that." Previous projects supported include air conditioning for the local school, with many more in the pipeline, but Greece's worsening economic crisis has altered priorities for Mitaros and the donors. "Our focus shifted from simply doing projects to improve the island to ones that create new and sustainable employment. The next is a free range chicken farm," he says with some pride. "We're also about to launch a campaign to raise $300,000 to restore a 19th century Friends of Kastellorizo: Perth’s Nick Mitaros (R) with son Tas. windmill, to make it into a fully working mill again to grind wheat. We have the approvals in place and one Greek Australian donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has already put in the first $50,000." “What we want to do is show local people that this sort of initiative can be successful, and encourage them to harvest their own olive trees next year and become part of a co-operative.” As for the olive oil, Mitaros says while it's a symbolic project given the small quantity involved, it's a vital model, and what's more, a project that offers sustainable employment. "We know we'll be able to sell the olive oil this summer to tourists and the Greek Australians here They'll buy a little bottle and take it home. "What we want to do is show local people that this sort of initiative can be successful, and encourage them to harvest their own olive trees next year and become part of a co-operative." Perth-born Margarita Kannis, one of the organisers on the island, told Neos Kosmos that the project had already borne fruit, with one full-time and one part-time job having been created. "This is our first production, our tester season. Until now the trees have all been wild and so we were very limited," says Ms Kannis. "To begin with we're providing products for sale here to the local market. Hopefully in the future we can think about exports." To celebrate the first manufacturing of Kastellorizo's fin- The good oil: Kastellorizo’s first batch of commercially-produced olive oil is being auctioned on eBay this weekend. est extra virgin oil since the start of the 20th century, five 250ml bottles of the golden green nectar (offered as one batch) are being auctioned on eBay this weekend. The auction closes at midnight Greece time tomorrow. As Neos Kosmos went to press, a bid of $380 (reportedly from Darwin) is poised to win this precious historic prize. First bitcoin ATMs in Greece New customers depositing at least €50 with BTCGreece, the only Greece-based bitcoin exchange, rose by 400 per cent between May and June, according to its founder Thanos Marinos, who put the number at "a few thousand". The average deposit quadrupled to around €700. Last month, the first twoway bitcoin ATM (bitcoin to euro and vice versa) was opened in downtown Athens at The Cube, a co-working space that houses innovative business start-ups. The two-way ATM was installed by Spanish start-up Bitchain. Joaquin Fenoy, the company's technology officer, believes the machine could help as Greece's banking crisis continues. Capital controls on Greek banks do not apply to the bitcoin outlet. The bitcoin is an entirely digital currency and unavailable in coins or banknotes. It is not produced by any particular country or controlled by any bank. Production, storage, handling and transactions are in electronic form. Source: Coinfox, Reuters Labor’s perfect storm CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Maria Vamvakinou, who chairs the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, says the "60 million people on the move around the world" is a problem faced by the global community, and Labor's turnaround is simple common sense. "No country has found a solution to this problem, as I witnessed on my recent trip to Greece, where I saw recent boat arrivals in their hundreds sleeping in parks," Ms Vamvakinou told Neos Kosmos. "Australia can't accept eve- ryone who wants to live here. We need a response that is fair, has integrity and is consistent with the safety of human lives. "The simple truth is that when boats were not allowed to land on Australian shores, they stopped coming. Whilst this may seem a brutal statement, the evidence is clear." Regarding 1,500 deaths at sea prior to the Abbott government's intervention, she added it was "unacceptable", and that any policy that encouraged people to enter Australia illegally by sea was inhumane. "Labor's new policy is to double our refugee intake and invest properly in regional and international efforts to deal with a serious global issue," she said. "These points are often overlooked by those who want to talk only about boats. This is a complex issue that requires a firm and holistic response." Kon Karapanagiotidis unsurprisingly takes a different view. He says the plight of those seeking a safe haven on Australian shores is a moral issue and both the government and the ALP cannot guarantee that turning back people on boats would not render them to danger and death elsewhere. "When we talk about people being turned back at sea, we're not talking about boats; we're talking about human beings," he says. "We need to be asking, why is it a tragedy when people drown in our seas, but not a tragedy when we turn people back to drown in more distant seas, to drown somewhere else, or to die at the hands of a torturer. "You don't protect people by turning them back, you protect refugees by providing safe alternatives." DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM “Australia can’t accept everyone who wants to live here. We need a response that is fair, has integrity and is consistent with the safety of human lives.” Maria Vamvakinou Karapanagiotidis said he welcomed Labor's pledge to increasing the refugee intake and ending Temporary Protection Visas but added he would have preferred a doubling of the refugee intake taking effect immediately, not over 10 years as proposed. "If you're going to stop people getting onto boats - because remember people only take boats because it's the safest option they have available to them, as sad or awful as that is - you need those places now, not in 10 years time," he said. Asked about the Greek Australian community's response to the immigration polices of both major parties, in a stinging rebuke, Karapanagiotidis said much of the community was conservative, and chose to disassociate with refugees. "We are now living in a country where all the things that have helped make this country great - Greek immigration, multiculturalism - are the things that both parties are failing to protect and stand up for," he said. "We come from refugee blood, we should be proud of it." What's clear from the debate within Labor is that the issue will be fought and argued over until the next election. The impact of that fight will resonate for years to come.
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8 August 2015