In a wide ranging discussion spanning sport, history, community and covid, Bill Papastergiadis (President of the Greek Community of Melbourne) spent 1 hour in discussion with Australia’s Health Minister, Mr Hunt. Also joining the conversation by phone was Treasurer of the Greek Community, Professor Pirpiris.
Bill Papastergiadis congratulated the Morrison Government and Minister Hunt for their exemplary work in maintaining Australia as one of the few countries globally to be largely covid free. Not enough could be said about the freedoms we have enjoyed in Australia considering the difficulties experienced in most parts of the world. This achievement in Australia cannot be understated.
Bill Papastergiadis raised a number of issues that were relevant to not only Greek Australians but affected all of us in this country.
The first question related to how the uncertainty on the opening of international borders impacted on the uptake of the vaccine. Bill Papastergiadis said that “many people in the community had expressed a view to me that they would delay taking the vaccine given the protracted timeline for when borders were opening internationally”. Clearly, this presented a “catch 22” situation for the Federal Government.
Minister Hunt acknowledged this issue and said in clear terms that “the quicker people got vaccinated the quicker the Government would consider the opening of international borders. Its up to all of us to get vaccinated. I speak regularly with the Prime Minister on this issue and when can’t emphasise how important it is that people get vaccinated”.
Minister Hunt made the point that “the issue of opening of the international borders is a matter that is constantly being considered by the Federal Government. A key factor to this is vaccination”
Bill Papastergiadis then asked about whether a travel bubble could be opened between Greece and Australia, providing Greece proceeds quickly with vaccinating its citizens so that it is safe place to visit. Minister Hunt thanked Bill Papastergiadis and said “this is an issue we will look into. No doubt the Federal Government will consider the possibility of travel bubbles with countries other than New Zealand. It is something the Federal Government can consider in due course”
Minister Hunt was effusive in his praise of Greece in its initial dealings with covid. He noted that it was initially one of the world’s success stories.
Minister Hunt noted that he had planned a family trip to Greece which unfortunately had to be abandoned because of covid. It was a country he certainly wanted to visit once borders were opened.
Bill Papastergiadis also raised the issue of vaccine passports and whether home quarantine for those vaccinated was being considered. Minister Hunt said those were matters which the Government was constantly examining.
Minister Hunt then enquired into Bill Papastergiadis’ role as Chairman of South Melbourne FC. Minister Hunt asked “is it still called Hellas? It is one of the wonderful clubs of Australia and it will certainly be an exciting time when the B League is set up. Promotion relegation would add another dimension to football in this country”.