Distinguished guests, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, I’d like to say good evening and kalispera elliniki cosmos. Apopse imaste oli ellines.
Tonight, we are all Greeks.
Tonight we celebrate the continuing modern, multicultural miracle which is Melbourne. And modern, multicultural Australia.
It's been six decades, and more, since the marvellous post war generation of Greeks came in hard times to our country, with nothing in their hands but a few mementoes and the hands of those they loved.
Many of you were this generation. Life was not easy in those years, and in the first years of raising your children here, far from the family weddings, the christenings, from the villages and the music where you have grown up, you worked all the harder to build your Australian dream.
The Greeks of Australia are the great migrant dream: taking risks, opening businesses, raising children and building communities.
You are a modest audience, and like all truly modest people I do not believe you know how much you are loved by your neighbours and by Australians of every background, no one ever complains about having a Greek neighbour.
And I congratulate the Greek community of Australia and Melbourne. Look at this marvellous cultural centre up here. It is a new Parthenon of the South. It will tell your stories and to the younger generations it will tell the stories of your parents and your grandparents.
Now few revered the wonders of Ancient Greece more than the late, great Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.
So let us rededicate ourselves to one of his passions, and one of the great unfinished businesses of the modern world: the return of the Parthenon marbles back to their rightful home.
And friends, if I may conclude, I would like to pay a personal tribute to another dear friend lost to us.
Kon Nicolopoulos, an icon of Neos Kosmos, he was a champion and a servant of the great Greek community.
Kon always strove to speak and seek the truth – in the voice and the language of his people.
I remember his life and we celebrate it. Let his spirit guide us.
Let us celebrate together, learn together and work together.
And if I may, my wife is here tonight, I scheduled a date on Valentine’s Day night, so why not have a date with several thousand of our best friends. So to her I say s’agapo and to all of you hronia sas pola.
Thank you very much.
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