Bill Papastergiadis discusses potential Greece-Australia travel with Health Minister Greg Hunt

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Bill Papastergiadis, President of the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCOM), and Professor Pirpiris, Treasurer of the GCOM, met with Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt to discuss the country’s vaccine progression and the Greek Australian community.

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 said.

Papastergiadis raised a number of issues that were relevant to not only Greek Australians, but everyone in the country.

The President asked to what extent the uncertainty of opening international borders impacted the uptake of the vaccine. 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.

“It’s 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”.

Papastergiadis also 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 a safe place to visit. 

Minister Hunt thanked the President, saying “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 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 are factors the Government are constantly examining.

Minister Hunt concluded the discussion by enquiring 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”.

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