New crop of future leaders

first_imgThree never before elected Greek-Australians are set to stand at the next federal and state elections. Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE) speaks to them. Frankston administrator, Helen Constas, who won ALP pre-selection for the Federal seat of Dunkley last month will contest Liberal MP Bruce Billson, who leads by a 4.3 percent margin. National Union of Workers (NUW) State Secretary, Antony Thow will contest Steve Fielding (should the elections be held at the scheduled date), after winning the ALP preselection for the number three spot in the Victorian senate. Long time electorate officer, Lee Tarlamis, will sit third on the ALP ticket for the upper house seat of South Eastern Metropolitan Region. Helen Constas, who challenged Bruce Billson at the 2004 federal election, says that politics is in her blood. Her father, a Greek immigrant who was involved in the Labor party for a long time, encouraged his daughters to take an interest in politics from a young age. “One day he asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up and when it came to me, I said that I wanted to be the first female Prime Minister of Australia,” she said to NKEE. “I don’t know if I’m ever going to be the first female Prime Minister but it has been a lifelong dream of mine to assist the people of Dunkley.” Born in Frankston and as a member of the Peninsula Community Legal Centre for 27 years where she is now the Chief Executive Officer, Ms Constas sees this opportunity as the next step. “I see this as extension of what I already do as a community worker on the grass roots level,” she said. “As a strong advocate for legal justice and as a Greek-Australian, I am proud to be representing the ALP for the federal seat of Dunkley. I am going to do everything I can to win this seat.” Like Ms Constas, 40-year-old Antony Thow feels that his Hellenic background on his mother’s side Hellenism has inspired him to take an active role in politics. “Being a grandson of migrants from Greece and seeing the opportunities that Australia created for them when they settled here has helped shape my politics,” he said. As a member of the NUW for the past 16 years who supported the union’s, Your Rights at Work campaign against Work Choices, it is needless to say that Mr Thow is a staunch advocate for worker’s rights. “I have a good perspective on the key issues that people are facing day to day and have had a lot of experience helping people at the work place, in particular migrant workers,” he said. Also a director of large superannuation fund, LUCRF, Mr Thow says his role has given him a unique perspective on the macro economic issues, as well as the need to invest in Government infrastructure. “I am a passionate believer in superannuation industry, and want to ensure that there is fairness and adequacy, so that working people have enough to retire on comfortably.” Lee Tarlamis, who works as an electorate officer for Mulgrave MP and Health Minister Daniel Andrews, was pre selected for the upper house seat of South Eastern Metropolitan Region following the vacation of the seat by Bob Smith. “Being a Labor seat, I am confident as anyone can be but it is difficult times and you can’t take anything for granted,” he said. The 34-year-old, who grew up in the local area of Noble Park said his inspiration to work in politics stems from his desire to help and strengthen the community. “I’ve worked in the region for various members of parliament for most of my life, but it wasn’t until I worked for many years on election campaigns that I thought it would be a good step to stand for pre-selection.” Mr Tarlamis, who says he is on the progressive side of politics says that he is interested in the areas of social justice, empowering the community, and encouraging people to engage in debate so that they can influence change. MP John Pandazopoulos, World Hellenic Interparliamentary Association President saw the new candidates as the “next generation of Greek Australian politicians and ones that reflect our multiculturalism”. Mayor of Monash, Cr Paul Klisaris, put his hand up for the seat of Aston in Melbourne’s east, but withdrew his application. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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