Victoria’s Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, John Pesutto, addressed a group of community leaders during a multicultural press conference at Victoria’s Parliament House on Tuesday, April 19.
Along with the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs, Trung Luu, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, David Southwick, Mr Pesutto commented on various issues.
On the topic of multiculturalism, Mr Pesutto said Victoria can be proud of its multicultural success story, but there is a big challenge of “turning appreciation into opportunity.”
“I still think there are Victorians, and particularly new Victorians and new Australians, who in parts of communities don’t really have those opportunities,” the Victorian Liberal Leader said with reference to giving people “a real share in the state’s prosperity.”
“But that’s the challenge. Not just attending and supporting initiatives that recognise the importance of multiculturalism, but there are people in multicultural communities, particularly the newer Australians, do we see them entering parliament? Do we see them on the boards of our largest companies and organisations? Are they getting the opportunities they need to? We need to deliver on the promise of opportunities.”
When asked a question by The Greek Herald about the role of Victoria’s Greek community in the state, Mr Pesutto further stressed this idea of creating opportunities for multicultural communities.
“Greek migration, as Italian migration, has really set the benchmarks for others to follow and particularly the Greek community has a hell of a lot to contribute on an ongoing basis for new migrant communities,” Mr Pesutto said.
“So I marvel at the way Victoria’s Greek community has been able to uphold and protect and promote traditions, language, culture in a way that other communities can only marvel at.
“The Greek community is involved right across the board and help with other communities as well… so it is one of the exemplars. There are other great communities as well obviously, but it’s been a great success story and I see that continuing.”
Of course, being the Opposition Leader, Mr Pesutto also couldn’t avoid questions around the Federal Voice to Parliament and the Victorian Liberal Party‘s current stance.
“We have a very different approach to the Federal Coalition. At a state level, we have an open mind on the debate. We are talking with their communities and listening to their communities and as a party room, if you like, we haven’t arrived yet at a time where we will need to make any definitive decisions about that,” Mr Pesutto said.
“For me personally, I am genuinely working through the issue and I do have an open mind. I’m talking to lots of people.
“As a leader, I am also very conscious that my colleagues in the Party will be able to work through the issue. Everybody treats it seriously, they understand the seriousness of it, particularly for Indigenous people too and… I think there’s a common appreciation that it is a matter of great significance.”