September 21

Theo bids farewell in 2010

first_imgThe announcement by Theo Theophanous last week that he was retiring from politics signifies an end of an era for the veteran MP and for the Greek community alike. With over 20 years of involvement in State politics, Mr Theophanous was the first MP of Greek background to become Victorian cabinet minister. As such he became an emblematic force within the ALP to widen the participation of ethnic groups in the party in general and of the Greek one in particular. Although by most accounts the influence of the Greek Australian community in politics, and especially within the ALP, seems to be diminishing, it is safe to say that a new generation of political leaders of Greek background is waiting to emerge. “The days when Greeks had big concentrations in the inner suburbs are disappearing, so the rise of new Greek political stars will depend more on the personalities of individuals rather than their capacity to generate numbers,” George Papadopoulos, veteran activist in Greek Australian politics and previous Chairperson of the Ethnic Affairs Commission pointed out to Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE). While acknowledging the potential contribution of existing Greek political players in Victoria, such as State MPs Jenny Mikakos and John Pandazopoulos and Federal MP Maria Vamvakinou, Mr Papadopoulos believes that it is the younger generations of Greek politicians who are heavily involved in local government and in advisory positions that will carry the torch of Greek political involvement. The numbers are generally a good indicator of how a phenomenon is shaping up. At the Labor Party 2009 National Conference that took place this weekend, out of a total of 397 delegates from across the country only 5 were of Greek background. That is a clear departure from the level of participation of past years.- Vicki Giannoulatos, Director of the Hellenic Museum and former advisor to Theo Theophanous attributes the fading political influence of Greek Australians to a lack of mentoring by existing Greek Australian politicians of younger people. “The current members of Parliament who are of Greek origin aren’t grooming young Greek people to step up to prominent political roles.” said Ms Giannoulatos to NKEEMrs Yiannoulatos also argues that the new breed of Greek political operatives have not relied strongly on their Greek background to achieve their political aspirations. “I’m not saying that the Greek community does not support these candidates but it hasn’t played an active role in their election,” Mrs Giannoulatos said.Lambros Tapinos, for example, at the youthful age of 30 and the acting Mayor of Moreland is representative of this new generation of Greek Australian political aspirants. In Victoria there are 20 Councillors of Greek descent who are ready to carry lead a new generation Greek political involvement. “We [Greek Councillors] are starting to meet regularly as a group and build a network that could also help in the future any new Councillors of Greek background to arise,” Cr Tapinos said. Regardless of Cr Tapinos’ optimism for the future, it seems, for now at least, that Greek political representation is shrinking. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more