Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has committed $800,000 to the Antipodes Festival and demanded the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece from the UK in his speech at last night’s Antipodes Festival celebrations.
Andrews welcomed the audience to the festival, and praised the Greeks of Melbourne.
“It is great to be here in one of the great Greek cities of the world. Athens, Thessaloniki and Melbourne. Great Greek cities of the world!” the Premier said.”We of course gather here to celebrate all that the Greeks have given us. All that the Greeks have given us in Melbourne, in Victoria, in Australia and across the world.”
In a section of his speech delivered in Greek, Andrews said that without Greeks we wouldn’t have democracy, ‘episteme’ (science) or architecture, as well as “Oakleigh” to some laughter, and “Lonsdale Street”, “Melbourne” and “Victoria”.
Andrews also announced that the committee will provide $800,000 over the next four years to support the festival.
Whilst his address was well received by the audience a small section of the crowd were heard booing the premier during his speech but did not cause any interruptions.
Alongside the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne Bill Papastergiadis, the Premier unveiled the completion of the Parthenon marbles replica adorning The Greek Centre building on the corner of Lonsdale St and Russell St.
Papastergiades revealed that the replica frieze has remained unfinished, to represent the stolen sculptures housed at the British Museum.
“It’s a message to England that we want it back, and when it comes back, we’re going to finish it,” he said.
Dan Andrews also called upon the United Kingdom for the immediate return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece.
In pre election mode Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy took to the stage to also make commitments while speaking to the attendees of the festival.
“Whatever happens at the end of the year at the election, this committee, who runs this wonderful event, will receive $800,000 to keep it running as you would expect,” he said.
“In the spirit of Hellenism, like there is in London, like there is in other cities, I would pledge to you to establish Australia’s first Greek library.
“To ensure also that with the shrine trustees, we bring back the march… for everyone to enjoy.
“And for many people in this audience, to ensure that many people of Greek descent who have come to this country and worked their guts out get proper compensation through the taxi industry.
“We want you to be a part of our city’s future as you have been in the past, to know that Melbourne, as one of the world’s greatest Greek cities, has its best days ahead of it, not behind it.”