Page 819 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2006

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High Commission, Mr Andrew Satsias, president of the Hellenic Club, Mr Emilios Konodaris, president of the Greek Orthodox community, Ms Georgia Alexandrou, president of the Cyprus community, and the reverend fathers George and Constantinos. Mrs Burke attended on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Speaker, 25 March is the anniversary of the struggle of Greece for independence in 1821, after some 400 years of Ottoman occupation. This fight helped in the formation of the modern Greek state and brought about freedom and independence. This day was chosen as the official date to commemorate the revolution for its religious significance of the Day of Annunciation, which symbolises birth.

Greek National Day encapsulates two important principles: freedom and independence. Freedom is a principle which allows us as individuals and members of communities to practice our cultural, political and religious beliefs. Without ensuring that this principle is upheld in the community, our diversity will be eroded. This principle is one which we all uphold and it was fitting that the dance was celebrated at the Hellenic Club, as the word “Hellenism” echoes this principle. Hellenism is essentially freedom. The highest expression of freedom is democracy, the supreme and subliminal creation of the ancient Greeks, a freedom not only to elect governments but also to participate in the actual affairs of one’s state.

The 1821 revolution also gave Greece independence from the Ottoman Empire. The creation of a Greek state has meant that Greek culture, politics and religious beliefs have been able to flourish. Australia has seen significant Greek migration and, with that, migrants and those with Greek heritage have brought their cultural beliefs, political opinions and religious beliefs to Canberra and all of Australia. I would suggest that all of us enjoy Greek culture and traditions, and it is pleasing that our Greek Orthodox community members have the independence and freedom to live both within their own culture and within Canberra’s multicultural community.

A number of the events that the Greek community celebrate and host are testimony to their involvement in the wider community whilst also maintaining their culture. The Greek Glendi, which was held as a major event in this year’s National Multicultural Festival, was a wonderful success and received much positive feedback from all who attended. This event allowed the Greek community to display its excellence in displaying the culinary delights of Greece and in dancing, as well as giving the wider Canberra community the opportunity to experience the rich Greek culture and traditions.

Mr Speaker, I do not think there is any doubt that, without the business acumen of many of the Greek business people past and present, Canberra would not be as prosperous as it is. Again, my thanks go to the Hellenic Club and all in the Greek Orthodox community for a wonderful night and I wish them all a very prosperous year. On a personal note, thanks for making me and my husband feel very welcome on Saturday night.


MR PRATT (Brindabella) (6.22): Mr Speaker, I stand today to speak of two events. Firstly, I congratulate the Migrant Resource Centre on running a very successful Harmony Day recently. I have also selected an activity which occurred on the March long weekend which I thought well illustrated harmony in its best sense. After seeing the

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