Mar 19, 2014

Statements by members – Hellenic Military Delegation

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:54): I have recently been approached by the Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign in regard to federal government support for the visit to the Hellenic military delegation. This delegation is a well-established tradition, having visited various cities across Australia since 1978. Over that time and up until 2010, the military delegation was recognised as an official visit and received consequential support from the federal government. Unfortunately, due to the global financial crisis, they did not visit in 2011 and, therefore, that support has ceased.

In Australia there are more than 350,000 people of Greek descent and the commemoration at the Battle of Crete and the Greek campaign is most relevant for those with this heritage, as well as for many other Australians who have Anzac ancestry. During the First World War, nearly 60 Australians of Greek origin served overseas with the Australian armed forces, many of whom lost their lives. These men were from a range of towns and cities such as Tamworth, Melbourne, Mackay, Adelaide and Bendigo. These Anzacs, along with many other Australians, are buried in Crete and in Athens, something the Hellenic military delegation seeks to commemorate this visit.

This is an important acknowledgement of the ties between Australia and Greece. I believe they should receive federal government support. I have written to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, asking that the support be reinstated. I believe that everyone in this House would support such a measure.