OK, this scribe has been a bit hard on Senator Stephen Conroy, the Federal Minister for Telecommunications. Well, I never said I was Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein.
Credit and kudos is due to Stephen Conroy because the naysayers like me were half expecting a couple of howlers to be appointed as Directors of the ABC and SBS boards.
Instead, Conroy’s largely transparent approach to filling these crucial vacancies – particularly in light of the overt stacking of the boards in previous times by Howard’s cultural warriors – brings a great sigh of relief to those who believe that Australia can make augment its position as a model multicultural society.
Firstly, the appointment of the Jewish Australian Joseph Skrzynski to the SBS Board as a non-executive Director is a victory for meritocracy.
Skrzynski’s father survived the horrific experience of at least two Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and arrived in Australia to see his family and off-spring excel.
Young Joseph graduated with an honours degree at the University of Sydney and has spent a lifetime as an incredibly effective and hard-working renaissance man, straddling the business, film, academic and philanthropic fields with aplomb.
Skrzynski’s appointment foreshadows a commitment to the responsible propagation of multicultural viewpoints.
Finally, the appointment of the Ethiopian -born Elleni Bereded-Samuel as a non-executive director recognises not just the changing nature of Australia’s population mix and immigration intake, it also rewards Bereded-Samuel’s outstanding contribution in her activities at Victoria University, her role as a member of Victoria’s Multicultural Affairs Commission and as a chairwoman of the network’s advisory committee.
Finally there is Nick Hatzoglou, an Australian-Greek passionate about sport and especially Aussie Rules.
Hatzoglou is the Multicultural Project Coordinator for the Australian Football League and AFL Victoria and is keen on opening Australian football to culturally diverse people.
He is the quintessential Aussie Greek who loves footy and cricket but does not deny his culture and has devoted much of his working life in the multicultural sector, local government and Cricket Victoria and sport generally.
Hatzoglou sees sport as a gel in building community harmony and believes that footy can play a vital role in developing people’s understanding of each other.
Thank you, Senator Conroy. Sometimes the good guys and gals win.