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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 1 April 2017
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 APRIL 2017 The activation of the Greek Australian Councillors Network can be an important forum to expand advocacy on behalf of our community CR KRIS PAVLIDIS Local government is often referred to as the closest level of government to the people. This is on a daily basis; as constituents can approach their local councillor about their issues at the shopping centre, on the footpath, or in the bank, as we all go about our daily tasks. For this reason local government has a unique mandate well beyond the three-Rs of roads, rates, and rubbish. The complexity of the role spreads across a plethora of social, economic, planning and environmental issues and in many respects the council becomes an essential and significant conduit with other tiers of government. The intimate understanding between a Greek councillor and their constituency has become a comfortable space for the Greek Australian community to voice their views and concerns and have them addressed. Now in my fourth term with the City of Whittlesea, and as their first female mayor of Greek heritage, the advocacy function has been galvanised. My serving on the boards of Pronia and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria means the issues of the Greek community can be addressed in a broader context. The activation of the Greek Australian Councillors Network can be an important forum to expand advocacy on behalf of our community. An initiative of former MP John Pandazopoulos a few years ago, there is a resurgence of interest in the idea following the recent local government elections. The network would provide opportunities to mentor newly elected councillors as well as prospective candidates. The network’s draft terms of reference are being developed and the process will involve consultation with interested councillors and others. Frankston station’s new look revealed The much-awaited design of the new Frankston Railway Station has been completed following two years of detailed planning and consultation, and a national design competition. Genton Architecture will be building a safer, more accessible and more user friendly train station for the south-eastern Victorian suburb. In the 2011 census, Sandhurst had the highest proportion of people speaking Greek at home with Frankston City also presenting a significantlysized population of Greek speakers. "It will be a true gateway to the Peninsula, and a place the community can be proud of," Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan and Member for Frankston Paul Edbrooke agreed. That work will deliver a new bus interchange, wider footpaths, fresh landscaping, and road improvements to reduce congestion. Rebuilding Frankston station is the centrepiece project of the Victorian Government's $63 million investment in the redevelopment of the Frankston station precinct, which includes major improvements to Young Street between Wells and Beach streets. The redevelopment will be a further catalyst for the transformation of the area into a modern, safe, and thriving place of business and activity. Construction of the new station to serve the bayside suburb, will begin later this year, with work to improve Young Street already well underway. "Frankston has been fighting for this investment and we're delivering it – a new station, a safer community, and a better place to live. "After years of hard work, it's so exciting to see our new station. I can't wait to see work start later this year," Member for Frankston Paul Edbrooke concluded. More information on the design will be available at the Frankston Revitalisation Hub opposite the station, and online at www.transport.vic. gov.au/frankston-stationprecinct-redevelopment OPINION The pursuit of happiness If social justice and human rights are to continue unfolding then happiness, universal happiness, has to be at the forefront DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM GERRY GEORGATOS All of a sudden, much is being written on the 'pursuit of happiness', of six-hour working days, of three and four days of work each week instead of the constancy of indenture and the trauma of wage slavery. Years ago, when I was the general manager of the Murdoch University Student Guild I went for all sorts of changes in workplace conditions only to be advised by the union, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), to "slow down", to "not give away too much too soon." I did not slow down. I pushed through 17 changes to our enterprise bargaining agreement. Happiness is everything; it is wellbeing and the dawn of all our meanings. When I took on the management of that particular student guild, and the management of five of its commercial operations, it was a key concern – facing the risk of insolvency. I inherited six industrial disputes and a sinking ship. But we turned it all around. We became one of the nation's strongest guilds – financially and politically. I was appalled at the low level of remuneration of many of my colleagues, most of them long-serving. Some were without tertiary qualifications and this was an argument used against them but I recognised equivalency of learning and skills acquired in the workplace over time. I crafted the position translations and increased everyone's remuneration. My colleagues were stunned, the NTEU was stunned. We should not wait for the 'right side of history' to loom in order to do what it is right. My sense of urgency and in putting people first led to high morale. I also reduced the 40-hour week to a 37.5-hour working week but remuneration remained equal to a 40-hour week. I was unsuccessful in pushing for a 35 hour week after failing to secure the original goal of 30 hours a week. The six hours a day was scoffed at by the NTEU and by the student guild board members. Society needs to be about people and subsequently the people will deliver the 'economy' we should have, not one that some want for the majority. We must always remember that all 'structures' are people. We are always working with one another. 'The pursuit of happiness' is imperative and just like the 1968 Paris workers' rights protests argued for shorter working weeks, for three and four working days in a week, for balanced lives, for the right to be happy and free, these rights to our natural freedoms should remain inalienable. The philosophers Schopenhauer and Heidegger effectively argued that many people treat other people as if they are property, but people are not property and certainly never the property of other people. Arguably, people are the property of freedom. If social justice and human rights are to continue unfolding then happiness, universal happiness, has to be at the forefront. The shortest possible working weeks should be the deal. The assurance of work and financial security to everyone – equality – should be the reality of our generations. Life needs to be balanced to allow for what we were born into – to be happy, free, to enjoy community, family, and experiences other than work. In the contemporary maladies of this workplace-driven world the above has been sidelined. We have been screwed over by unnatural imposts, where all our doings and expectations are maddeningly 'workrelated' – and we compete with each other to achieve them; career, the climbing of the ladder, accolades. It is all theatre but one of unhappiness. A theatre of misery. We are taught about a world order that is dog-eat-dog, that we will make enemies in the workplace, that jealousy is a driver and that it can be ambition's fuel. Human beings have become the most miserable species on the planet. Art is the only outlet that may run a counter-narrative, where the outburst of unhappiness in the work-mad world - one of servitude to drudgery - is disconnecting us from happiness. The revolution that is needed is becoming less likely as institutional and structural power imbalances are relentlessly shored up.
25 March 2017
8 April 2017