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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 May 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 18 MAY 2019 23 OPINION If I were Prime Minister... In the lead-up to the elections, we asked members of the Greek Australian community what they would do if they became the next Australian Prime Minister Professor James Arvanitakis, PhD, is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Graduate Studies) of Western Sydney University. He is also a member of the Institute for Culture and Society, a chair of Diversity Arts Australia, a board member of the Public Education Foundation and an Academic Fellow of the Australia India Institute, Centre for Policy Development and the list goes on. More recently, he accepted a 12-month Fulbright Fellowship as the Millard Simpson Distinguished Chair of Government, Public Policy and International Relations at the University of Wyoming. JAMES ARVANITAKIS What would you do on your first day on the job? On my first day on the job I would reach out to the Opposition and seek for ways to build bridges across the GEORGE ZANGALIS George Zangalis is the Honorary President of the Public Transport Union, Vice President of the Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition, founding member of FECCA , ECCV, and Ethnic Community Broadcasting, broadcaster, and a regular contributor on sociopolitical issues, especially those that concern migrant workers and policies and campaigns that are relevant to ethnic minorities. He has served on the SBS board and the ABC National Advisory Committee and has authored works of interest to migrant workers and ethnic communities that document their struggles for social justice and cultural rights. What are the issues you feel need to be addressed? This election, as others in the past, is not about changing the system which many believe is the cause of injustice, but the possibility of a change in the government and the introduction of some progressive reforms that can lighten the socioeconomic and climatic burdens on the people. Implementation will still require massive efforts and co-operation between the ALP and the political divide: making this a conversation and agreeing to invite the opposition leader to announcements of national significance to give him a platform. I would come to an agreement that the marginalisation of communities must stop and we should stop using race as a political platform. I would set up a ‘red tape’ task force and start removing some of the absurd rules in our society. And I would set a 50-year zero emissions target and work to remove ‘climate change’ as a political issue. What are the issues you feel need to be addressed? • The hollowing out of the middle class is one of the major issues facing Australia. Our economic and social stability has long relied on a strong middle class and we need to ensure a fair, equitable and inter-generational Greens, favoured, and in my opinion deserving to win. What are some of the urgent issues for the Greek Australian community? The main issues for Greek Australians, are not any different to those of the rest of the people in this country. For those in the work force – and remember the great majority of Greek Australians are also wage and salary earners – an increase in wages, stagnant for over six years, whilst costs of living soar and profits have never been greater, restoration of penalty rates for over a million lowest paid workers mostly migrants and women working weekends and public holidays in the service and hospitality industries, stand out as top priority. So does creating full-time jobs by producing more in Australia – including an electric car, and why not a free public transport system? A badly-needed increase in social security payments for pensioners, single mothers and the unemployed. Better and cheaper care for aged people with all dental, medical and pharmaceutical costs covered by medicare. policy that supports them (while removing middle class welfare that take from future generations). • A response to climate change and water challenges that are risking Australia’s economy and environment. • Responding to the increasing political divides where a few extreme individuals seem to have set the political agenda. What are some of the urgent issues for the Greek Australian community? There are two issues that I think are key here. The first is that as a middle power, Australia can assist in building a stable global economy founded on a strong rules-based system which means strong multi-lateral institutions. This would help both Greece and Australia. The second is a focus on promoting diversity amongst the Restoration of the $7 billion to education cut by the liberals and investment in public schools, in early education learning and the teaching of ethnic minority languages – the $8m to $10m promised by the Libs and the ALP for about 1,000 ethnic community schools operating after hours is not even a drop in the ocean. More importantly, there is no policy or funds for the teaching of languages in the mainstream government day schools. If we are to stop the rapid decline in language-cultural learning and move forward we need language chairs at universities. People have fought for a free and secular education system – and in terms of Australia, a multicultural one. And this objective needs to be fought for at all times. Climate change is clearly and loudly a major issue, demanding action now. No more delays and frustration by the climate deniers and the coal-vested interests. This election is about the climate, as tens of thousands of young people go on strike to tell us to hurry up. Three other major injustices need to be addressed. Firstly, Australian citizenship should be easier to obtain and be equal at all times. Secondly, arts: we still have a media that looks like Australia in the 1930s – the media is fundamental in sharing our complex and multi level cultures and the stories of who we are. This gives us identity and contributes to our twin loyalties of being Australians with the love of our spiritual homeland. What is your campaign wish list? 1. Ensuring a voice for marginalised communities. 2. Ending political divides. 3. Working to remove the racism and belligerent nationalism that has emerged in our national debates. 4. Ensuring equitable higher education for all. 5. Reform to the aged care sector. 6. A real arts and cultural policy that promotes the beautiful diversity of our communities. remove section 44 from the colonialist constitution to allow Australian citizens, some 6 million, to have the right to stand for the Federal Parliament. Thirdly, quotas should be set for non Anglo-Celtic background Australians and preferably workers, men and women to be proportionally represented in parliaments, political parties, public service, unions and other social institutions. A dedicated minister for ethnic and multicultural affairs, working closely with elected representatives of the ethnic minorities, is needed. In this, we should be joining forces with the Aboriginal rights movement and those who fight to maintain their identity with a voice of their own and legal/constitutional recognition of Australia’s first people. Multiculturalism – Australia’s true identity – should also be enshrined in the constitution of a republican Australia. And may the yellow and black flag of indigenous Australians fly side by side with the blue and white flag of Eureka over our Parliament House in Canberra. And as a life-long organised revolutionary, how could I go past the red flag, the symbol of unity and struggle for a new world? The Coalition’s temporary sponsored parent visa DAVID COLEMAN The Morrison Government has delivered on its commitment to introduce a family reunion visa, with sponsorship applications for the new Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa now open to migrant families wanting their parents to come to Australia for up to 10 years. This new visa was introduced following significant engagement with migrant communities, and I have had the opportunity to hear from many multicultural community groups, both in my role as Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, and as the Federal Member for the electorate of Banks in southern Sydney. Following extensive consultation to design the new program, the Government has introduced a sensible, economically responsible new visa that will assist thousands of families each year to reunite with their loved ones. Our new visa gives families an additional option to bring their parents to Australia, and provides an alternative option to Visitor visas and permanent Parent visas, which parents are still eligible to apply for. There is no change to these existing visas. Up to 15,000 Temporary Sponsored Parent visas can be granted each year under the new program. Parents are able to stay in Australia for up to five years, and will have the option to renew for a further five years. It's very important that immigration programs are carefully managed to ensure that the number of vi- sas granted are sustainable for the Australian economy and population growth. Our new visa has been designed to support migrant families, whilst also protecting the interest of taxpayers and the economy. The Temporary Sponsored Parent visa is just one of many initiatives the Morrison Government has put in place to ensure migrants are supported and that we remain the most successful immigration nation in the world. It will enable reunions for thousands of Australian families. Only the Morrison Government can be trusted to manage an orderly immigration program and sensibly plan for our future population. * The Honorable David Coleman is the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.
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