While Labor leader Bill Shorten got the chuckles in this morning’s end-of-year speech in Parliament, he has made an awkward gaffe in the Christmas card sent out to constituents in his electorate in Melbourne’s west. According to a Facebook post by Konstantinos Kalymnios, the card wished “Season’s greetings” in many languages, but not Greek — a community Kalymnios says is “very old and numerically significant”. The languages included were Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Maltese, Italian, French, Korean, Turkish and Croatian, according to Kalymnios’ post. He writes:
“Many of the Greeks of the electrorate, most of whom have been Labor supporters for decades, have expressed the opinion [that] they are no longer considered important enough to have the greetings of the season extended to them. It should be noted that this electorate covers 4 significant Greek parishes – Panagia Soumela East Keilor, St Demetrius Moone Ponds, Agia Paraskevi St Albans and Apostolos Andreas Sunshine. it should also be noted that the Greek community of East Keilor constructed the building which [is now] used as the Maternal and Child Health centre, on Milleara Road, East Keilor.”
Kalymnios added on the end of the post that Shorten’s office has confirmed that the lack of a Greek language Christmas wish was an oversight and letters of apology would be sent. The Greek community plays an important role in the Labor Party in Melbourne; in some safe Labor seats in the inner north and west, branches are seen as “Greek” branches, while others are “Turkish” or “Lebanese” branches.
In other Christmas card news, we hear that Pauline Hanson’s card uses the same cartoon of Hanson and her colleagues that features in a poster outside her office. Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, a devout Christian, includes a quote from Isaiah on his card, which is quite a bit more fire and brimstone than general Christmas messages. It reads:
“Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”
When the passage Hastie is quoting ends on the much more uplifting “and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called/ Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,/ Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” it seems strange to go with blood and boots.