Nana Mouskouri overshadowed many on the Q&A panel this week, as the Greek songstress chimed in on numerous Australian topics like children in detention, tax evasion and distrust in politics.
The octogenarian singer and former member of the EU parliament appeared on the ABC panel show on Monday while in Australia to perform a number of concerts.
Mouskouri’s defining moment on the show was when she prevailed over the political psycho-babble and gave her views on children in detention.
Having worked as a UNICEF ambassador, Mouskouri was visibly shocked to discover that Australia had a current record of keeping children in detention.
“I’m surprised for Australia. I didn’t know,” she said.
“I think the world needs a little bit more humanity.”
Mouskouri said under no circumstances should children be in detention and called for the government to change tack.
“Let’s put some humanity into the laws really and protect the children,” she said.
“You are playing with the lives that are going to build a better world, so give them the chance to do that.”
Mouskouri was joined on the panel by rising Labor star Ed Husic, Guardian Australia columnist Van Badham, parliamentary secretary to the treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer and editor of the Financial Review Michael Stutchbury, all of whom chimed in on the state of Greece’s current economic and political woes.
In light of heated anti-Islamic protests across Australia, Mouskouri drew parallels to Greece’s neo-fascist political party Golden Dawn, and admitted she was worried about its popularity.
Asked by host Tony Jones whether anyone could reason with a leader who proclaims himself a racist, Mouskouri replied “no, I cannot [reason with them], but, you know, the problem is that people have voted and they are in the parliament”.
As a true pacifist, Mouskouri hoped a solution can be found through opening the discourse and not “receiving them as enemies”.
Interestingly, Mouskouri was able to get the politicians of the panel to open up about the reality of aligning themselves with a party that implements policies that they might not agree with.
Speaking about entering politics briefly when became member of the EU parliament in 1994-1999, Mouskouri found the responsibility of promising solutions before judging the obstacles troubling.
“I didn’t want to continue because it is a difference with politics and singers. Singers, we live with music, we give hope, we give love, we try really to make people see a future, which I did when I was young, but I cannot commit myself by giving solutions and these solutions the politicians will give,” she says.
The topic then shifted to Greece’s austerity measures, which saw a number of panellists chime in.
All agreed that a ‘Grexit’ would be dangerous, but differed on whether Greece is using the right tactics in negotiating a better deal with its creditors.
“They’ll probably get it but I don’t think that will be the end of it, because fundamentally they’ve got to become a more competitive economy,” Australian Financial Review’s Michael Stutchbury said.
Mouskouri said more needs to be done to fix the tone of Greece’s objections.
“The most important thing is to soothe the people’s problem then you can go and ask for whatever you want,” she said.
“You cannon in a crisis go and say, ‘Yes, but you owe us’, or make enemies with everybody.”
While this was going on, Q&A’s Twitter feed was being flooded with tongue-in-cheek jokes from the Australian public.
“Put some Windex on the Greek economy,” said Robbie Carroll, taking his advice from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Mr Blanc said “I’m happy to use my tax dollars for Greece if they repay in moussaka.”
Mouskouri finished the show by singing a rendition of the famous song The White Rose of Athens.