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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 May 2019
OPINION 22 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 18 MAY 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Bob Hawke travelling to Greece in 1986. Taken in 1991. The Honorable Mr Bob Hawke standing next to Sotiris Sotiriou and surrounded by members of the Pegasus Dance Academy. Bob Hawke launched Prof Anastasios Tamis’ “Greeks in the Far Orient” book as over 250 guests of the Greek festival of Sydney convened at the historic Marrickville Town Hall in 2012. Vale Bob Hawke, a great statesman and friend of the Greeks Bob Hawke passed away ‘peacefully’ on 16 May, two days ahead of the Australian elections MARY SINANIDIS Bob Hawke, Labor's longestserving prime minister held the post from 1983-1991 before being succeeded by Paul Keating. Thanks to his larrikin ways and strong social policies, he was one of the most popular and charismatic leaders Australia has known, and his carefree personality particularly appealed to the Greek community. A friend of Greece, he gelled well with Andreas Papandreou thanks to their social conscience, free-spirited ways and parallel lives as unionists who later became prime ministers. The two first met when Hawke was president of the ACTU and Papandreou was a resistance leader against the Greek junta. There was immediate camaraderie as they visited former prime minister Gough Whitlam's residence in Sydney. Neos Kosmos founder and publisher Dimitri Gogos and former NK journalist Takis Kaldis were present at the event to witness history in the making. The two great leaders met again in the mid-Eighties as heads of state. Their friendship was mutual and helped in their collaboration to ensure that multiculturalism thrived. And it was his spirit that welcomed diversity that ensured he got the ethnic vote. In fact, when Hawke entered Parliament in 1980 it was by winning the seat of Wills, an area with many constituents of Greek origin. As PM, Hawke would attend many Greek events, and he did not stop after his retirement. Neos Kosmos editor-inchief Sotiris Hatzimanolis had the fortune of meeting him on numerous occasions and remembers the great leader's favourite saying, which was none other than: "Oh, how I love the Greeks!" We dug in our archives and around social media and found some characteristic photos that show the strong bonds between the great statesman and the Greek community. His second wife, Blanche d'Alpuget released a statement informing the public of his death: "Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation."A private funeral will be held by Ms d'Alpuget, his children Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren.A memorial service for Australia's 23rd prime minister will be held in Sydney in coming weeks. It’s time to vote - but there’s a feeling that we’ve seen it all before MARY SINANIDIS Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten made their final pitches to voters this week. One urged Australians that now is not the time for change so that normalcy can continue, whereas the other invoked the spirit of Gough Whitlam by returning his party to Bowman Hall in Blacktown – the same place where the legendary Philhellenic leader made his famous "It's Time" speech in 1972 before becoming the first Labor prime minister in 23 years. Now, the ball is in the court of 16 million voters registered to cast their ballots for 151 members of Parliament. Newly-arrived Greeks, suf- fering from PTSD following the turbulence that came after similar pitches panned out between Alexis Tsipras and Antonis Samaras in 2015 may indeed feel a sense of deja vu. Those that followed the rise of the left-wing SYRIZA party that made its way to the leadership for the first time ever know full well that all that glitters is not gold and promises of an equitable future can prove fruitless if the conditions to meet them are not in place. Thankfully Australia is a different country with different policies, a different mentality, different circumstances and a framework that keeps corruption in check – up to a point at least. Let's not forget we're living in a land where people have the luxury of getting all excited about the plastic bag ban but seem relatively apathetic when there is a change in prime minister as was the case in August when Scott Morrison almost seamlessly took over from Malcolm Turnbull. Uneventfully. "Welcome to Australia," I was told when I pointed this out to a colleague during my post in rural Australia at the time. At Neos Kosmos, colleagues remind me of the history between politicians and the Greek community and the campaigns that the newspaper itself has heralded to ensure that the rights of the ethnic group were respected at times when it mattered most. If Greeks vote with their heart and soul, they'll probably show loyalty to Labor and remember the days of Whitlam, when the party was a champion of working class migrants. Of course, that relationship will some day be water under the bridge. But for the moment, Greeks still remember where they came from and how they thrived thanks to their hard work and assistance of policies that allowed for the rise of a more affluent and educated second and third generation. Bob Hawke's death allows us to look back upon the offerings that Labor have made to multiculturalism. Who can forget the great statesman's tearful promise to allow Chinese students to stay in Australia after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre? Memories of party leaders that embrace diversity are in stark contrast to Morrison's run as former immigration minister in the Tony Abbott government when he was among the creators of the country's harsh border protection policies. So proud of this is he, that, according to a report in the Guardian, he has a model of a migrant boat in his office, sitting on his desk, with a caption that reads – "I stopped these". Shorten is your usual Labor fodder. Like Hawke, he has a unionist history and rose to attention as the national secretary of the Australian Workers' Union in 2005. He played a key role in negotiations following the Beaconsfield mine collapse which killed one miner and trapped two. Bearing in mind this background,social policies that fight inequality in society are high on the agenda. Criticised for not having a sustainable programme and that taxes would need to be raised, Labor states that this is danger-mongering and its plan would also foresee a surplus – for newly-arrived Greeks that may sound ominously familiar. (Remember the mantra – Λεφτά υπάρχουν – first uttered by Greek socialist PASOK prime minister George Papandreou? Remember Tsipras' own accusations of a dangermongering opposition just before capital controls were imposed?) And while Australia is a dif- ferent country under different circumstances and with different regulations in place to protect the people, politics has commonalities around the world and too much power can sway even those with the best of intentions. It's always been the case since the days of antiquity when Greeks kept the most powerful in check with a system of ostracism. Australia's answer to these are royal commissions. Then there are other global trends that are still at bay in Australia, such as the rise of extremism around the world. But what would happen in the case of a hung Parliament should the Pauline Hansons and Clive Palmers end up holding the balance of power? The fear is real bearing in mind that the election is tight and still too close to call. There are predictions that Labor could win but marginal votes could still help the Coalition claim a victory. Every vote is significant. Neos Kosmos has done all it can to help Greek Australian readers make an informed and conscious decision with exclusive interviews with stakeholders across the political spectrum, including Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Labor Party Leader Bill Shorten, Labor MPs Maria Vamvakinou and Stathis Georganas, as well as Liberal Senator Arthur Synodinos. We sought an interview with Scott Morrison, who, due to his busy schedule, could not answer the questions we wanted to pose – questions designed to be specific to the needs of the Greek Australian community. We've focused on visas, citizenship backlogs, pensions, negative gearing, second language education and many more issues that are relevant to Greek Australians today. We've also reached out to prominent Greek Australians, Philhellenes from the arts, academia and other sectors in our 'If I were Prime Minister' series and ensured that our site was a forum for free debate and robust dialogue. Now, the moment of truth has arrived. Let's hope our choice will be one that would help build an equitable society that has made Australia such an amazing country and has helped Greek Australians to contribute and thrive.
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