Next Saturday March 17 will be a big day for residents in the Batman Federal Electorate that includes Alphington, Clifton Hill, Fairfield, Kingsbury, Northcote, Preston, Reservoir, Thornbury and parts of Bundoora, Coburg North and Macleod.

The residents will cast their vote to elect their representative in the Federal Parliament. Greens candidate for Alex Bhathal has made a pre-election announcement, recognising the Greek-Australian community’s contribution to the local area.

“After all, Greek is the second most spoken language throughout our local community,” he said. “If elected, I will be a strong voice for the Australian-Greek community in our Federal Parliament.”

“I come from a migrant family myself and I know first-hand the unique challenges that migrant communities face in our community and the importance of staying connected to our cultural heritages,” Blathal added.

The Greens candidate also stressed their opposition to the Government’s plan to make migrants wait 15 years before they could receive access to aged pensions as well as the cuts to aged pension payments to people who have been overseas for 6 weeks or more.

“[We are] against the Government’s amendments to the Citizenship Act that would have increased the time spent as a permanent resident to four years and required university level English to obtain Australian citizenship,” he said.

“The Greens and I are committed to a society where our diversity and our multicultural society is valued as our nation’s greatest strength. To do this, we need culturally appropriate services, such as multilingual child care and aged care workers and increased resources for the teaching of key community languages such as Greek in public primary and secondary schools,” he said adding that in order to maintain Batman’s rich cultural connections, they want to invest $30 million in a fund to support small media organisations, providing additional assistance for publications in languages other than English, while increasing funding for local community activities, which play such an important role in bring diaspora communities together.