Healthcare, pension scheme, the inclusion of Modern Greek in the national curriculum and people smuggling are issues Greek federal politicians on both sides of politics have identified as being important to the Greek Australian community.
Steve Georganas, Labor member for Hindmarsh in South Australia, supports Labor’s policy on asylum seekers, saying the Prime Minister has taken a “level-headed” approach to finding a good solution which would ensure asylum seekers are settled as quickly and as humanely as possible.
“The opposition are scaremongering and saying they are going to send the boats back, they know they can’t do that and Tony Abbott is now admitting he cannot send them back,” Mr Georganas said.
Sophie Mirrabella, Liberal member for Indi and Shadow minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, told Neos Kosmos the Liberal Party is concerned about people smuggling.
“It is inhumane to encourage people who take thousands of dollars to put people in leaky boats and send them across open waters. We want the people smuggling trade stopped,” she said.
Ms Mirrabella also said the Liberal party supports a united Cyprus. “We believe the two sides should come to a fair and just settlement on the issues of contention, consistent with UN Security Council resolutions,” she said.
Mr Georganas has been actively promoting the inclusion of Modern Greek as one of the eight languages in the national curriculum.
“I’ve been at the forefront of it with Maria Vamvakinou; we’ve given a lot of mileage to parliament and raised the profile of the campaign to ensure we get Greek in the national curriculum,” he said.
Labor member for Calwell Maria Vamvakinou said the petition to have the Modern Greek Language included in the National Curriculum is an ongoing action. “No decision will be made until later next year,” she said.
Mr Georganas pointed to support for the inclusion of Modern Greek in the national curriculum from Simon Crean, John Brumby, Anna Bligh, Mike Rann, and the chief minister of the Northern Territory.
Over 20,000 signatures in support of the language’s inclusion into the curruculum were presented last week in Parliament.
While Mr Georganas believes the Greek community’s issues are similar to mainstream issues, he said that the Greek community is a fast ageing one with many particular needs and Labor will continue to focus on them.
“We’ve seen the first ever historical increase in the pension and we’ve seen our health reform packages which will assist the elderly; these are the things that the Greek community will be looking at,” he said.
He said ageing Greek Australians want to ensure they have the health services.
“Labor is working on that issue with our national health reform agenda and if you look at Tony Abbott who cut $1 billion out of health and is already saying that he will abolish GP clinics, now all these things assist the elderly who use health services more than anyone else.”
Ms Vamvakinou said federal Labor has delivered the biggest increase to the single age pension in more than a hundred years. “Our pension reforms have delivered increases of more than $100 a fortnight for single age pensioners, and more than $76 for couples,” she said.
“The Gillard Government continues to build on those pension and healthcare reforms. Last week I announced a $7million Super Clinic to be built in my electorate of Calwell.”
She highlighted that Super Clinics will facilitate the training of more than 3000 nurses and 1300 GPs.
Ms Vamvakinous underscored her concern about the future of the Greek community and how it will evolve to accommodate the needs of the next generation.
“Greek Australians will always be concerned about the educational value of the Greek language and its significance to the overall Greek inheritance (in addition to) the mainstream issues to do with education, economy and environment.”
“Labor has a better vision for the future of the country and putting forward policy directions. The ALP is a more progressive party in its outlook and promotes a more open society,” she said.
Many Labor supporters have questioned Gillard’s position of a ‘sustainable Australia’ as a lurch to the right in order to woo voters in marginal seats in Western Sydney and Queensland.
The Minister for Sustainable Population Tony Burke last week, feeling the heat from business and other groups, said he maintained support for migration, but for a more organised growth where it was needed.