Translating the Greek crisis for Australians

5 June 2012

As the Greek financial situation threatens to envelop the whole country in political crisis, Australians with a connection to Greece are watching events unfold with a mixture of anxiety and despair.

This Thursday, a panel of commentators with a spectrum of views and opinions will look at the way forward for Greece.

One of the speakers who will join the panel, Sophie Cotsis, a Labor member of the NSW parliament, believes Greece can learn from Australia's recent past.

"The Accords of the Australian Labor Hawke and Keating Governments can provide a model for Greece. The Accords brought unions, businesses and the Government together in grand bargain where economic reforms, such as wage restraint, were offset by 'social wage' policies such as Medicare and compulsory superannuation," she says.

"Greece can look to Australia's successes building political consensus for economic reform as path toward prosperity. Greece is the birthplace of democracy, and now is the time for Hellenes to come together and make tough reforms to restore confidence and get people back to work."

The Consul General for Greece in Sydney, Vassilios Tolios, will also speak at the event. He will urge all Australians to visit Greece and be prepared to invest there well ahead of the coming "Greek Rush".

"Whatever the outcome of the elections of 17 June, Greece steadily, although slowly and through difficulties, is becoming the new destination both for investments and recreation, cultural visits and tourism," he says.

Vrasidas Karalis, Chair of the Department of Modern Greek Studies at the University of Sydney and the event moderator, believes the Greek political system needs a complete overhaul.

"The root of the present crisis is the Greek model of governing: overcentralised bureaucracy unchecked by independent judiciary, in the hands of political opportunists," he says.

"If the EU leaders are serious they must impose democratic standards of accountability and transparency on the Greek government and should not ask for more financial sacrifices from ordinary pensioners and workers."

This after work panel discussion is the first Sydney Ideas event to be held at the University of Sydney's former law school campus in Phillip Street in the city. Refreshments will be provided before the panel commences at 6.30pm.


* Associate Professor Vras Karalis, Chair of the Department of Modern Greek, University of Sydney (moderator)

* Professor Tony Aspromourgos, School of Economics, University of Sydney

* The Hon Sophie Cotsis MLC, NSW Parliament

* Vassilios M Tolios, The Consul General for Greece, Sydney Consulate General

* The Hon Maria Vamvakinos MP, Federal Member for Calwell, Victoria

Event details

What: The Greek Political and Financial Crisis: the View from Australia, a Sydney Ideas forum co-presented with the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences

When: 6.30 to 8pm, Thursday 7 June. Refreshments from 6pm

Where: 173 to 175 Phillip Street, Sydney, St James Campus. See map and directions

Cost: $25, University of Sydney alumni, staff and students $20 (identification required). Entry includes drinks and nibbles

Bookings:Seymour Centre box office on 9351 7940

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Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 02 9351 1584

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