Melbourne Greek festival awash with MPs

There's been no shortage of federal and Victorian state politicians seeking to be noticed at a large Greek community festival in Melbourne. 

(Transcript from World News Radio)

Australian politicians have long recognised the potential vote-winning strategy of being seen to be engaged with ethnic communities.

And when Melbourne's large ethnic Greek community got together recently for what was billed as the largest Greek-themed street party outside Greece, there was no shortage of federal and Victorian state politicians seeking to be noticed.

Kyriakos Gold has the details.

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Dance, music, and food marked the 27th Antipodes Lonsdale St Festival in Melbourne with an estimated audience of over 100,000 people attending.

True to its Greek spirit, the weekend also had its share of politics.

In a Victorian election year, it's perhaps not surprising that state political leaders were prominent - and seeking to out-do each other with promises of funding to the Greek community.

To coincide with the event, the Labor Opposition announced programs targeting Victoria's new arrivals from Greece.

Labor State Opposition leader Daniel Andrews committed to funding through Melbourne's key Greek organisations.

"The fact is that many Victorian welfare agencies - many of those who provide care and support to those who arrive here from Greece - they need additional support. That's why today I was very pleased to promise a Labor government - an Andrews Labor government - would deliver $90,000 a year to Australian Greek Welfare in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria."

Coalition Premier Denis Napthine also reaffirmed his government's commitment of $70,000 a year for the Lonsdale St Festival and pledged $2 million for the 15-storey Greek Cultural Centre that is expected to be completed in the next few months.

And he gave an indication of the support programs to be expected during the election campaign.

"We 'll continue to announce policies in the lead up to the election that will assist the Greek community within Melbourne and Victoria, new Greek arrivals and also particularly we' ll be targeting employment for people who are new arrivals from Greece to assist them to have jobs and integrate in our society so they can grow in terms of economic opportunities here in Melbourne and Victoria."

Federal politicians, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott and opposition leader Bill Shorten, were also at the Antipodes festival.

While the state government and opposition were promising funding for Greek community groups, Mr Shorten said he expected cuts from the federal government to migrant and other organisations - and possibly the ABC.

"I worry that the Abbott government is about cutting things. You know they said beforehand they wouldn't touch the ABC. So I think that the problem the Abbott government's got is that they know the price of everything but they know the value of nothing."

Asked about possible further changes that may affect multicultural communities, Mr Abbott said that the federal government is committed to its pre-election promises.

"I want everyone in Australia to know that this is a government which keeps its commitments. We meant what we said and we will do what we said. We mean what we say and we get on with keeping our commitment."

Member for Melbourne in the House of Representatives, Adam Bandt from the Greens, said the Greek festival was a great example of successful multiculturalism in the Victorian capital.

He said he lamented that support for multiculturalism was not so strong on a national level.

"I think there is something special about Melbourne: it's a place where all parties agree to support multiculturalism. It's never an election issue that's used to divide people, it only unites people. Nationally it's very different story which I think is really disappointing."

The Lonsdale St festival is part of the Greek Community of Melbourne's annual Arts and Culture Program that includes the Greek Film festival, the Antipodes Writers festival and the food event, Flavours of Greece.



Source World News Australia

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