The Hellenic Club of Sydney in conjunction with HACCI NSW, were honoured to host a luncheon at Beta earlier to this week to honour The Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO, Australia’s next Ambassador to the United States.
The event was MC’d by Greek Australian journalist John Mangos and was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Mr. Christos Karras, Trade Commissioner of Greece in Australia, Mrs. Katia Gzikiza, former NSW Premier, the Hon. Morris Iemma, other parliamentarians, Dr Charlie Teo and other distinguished guests.
As John Mangos stated, Mr. Sinodinos is “a pillar of the Greek-Australian society” and has made outstanding contributions to the Australian and Greek community. He has subsequently worked as a public servant and political adviser, most notably as chief of staff to Prime Minister John Howard between 1997 and 2006, before being appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Senate in 2011. Former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull also gave him a senior position in their ministries.
Now, Arthur starts a new chapter and writes history, becoming the first Australian born Greek origin Ambassador to the United States.
The president of the Hellenic Club Sydney, Nikolas Hatzistergos, welcomed Arthur and guests to the event, stating that “Arthur has an intellect that is just downright scary…the scariest part of it all is not his list of achievements but it’s the way he makes the complicated things seem so simple. He makes the incredibly difficult tasks seem like there is always a solution. He always understands bipartisan relationships and he is always focused on a good outcome that doesn’t leave people behind…Arthur you have demonstrated in your life and the way you hold yourself to be a beacon for others to follow and a role model.”
The Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO thanked guests for attending and noted that he took this role so he could “do something meaningful on the frontline,” even though he knows there will be lots of scrutiny.
“I am going during an interesting time, the elections for the congress and administrations. It will be a tough time… The US is very divided. Politics in the west overall is pretty divided but particularly in the US we have a situation where people become more and more entrenched in the views. It is not a problem for me… Issues in the US affect us [Australia] in terms of trade , in how we operate in the world trade system..” he continued.
One of the things Mr. Sinodinos is looking forward to when arriving in America, is making contact with the large Greek community there, as Greekeness to him has always been an important part of his identity.
There was also time for a Q &A where interesting questions were raised including the challenges Arthur expects he will face when dealing with the Trump administration especially in the first 90 days. He responded by nothing that he arrives in the US during the primary season of the elections, so apart of the challenge is getting to know some of the players on both sides.
“The challenge in dealing with the administration is to understand fundamentally the President is it. Ultimately he makes the deicisons… but in terms of pushing his buttons one thing that has worked in the period that Joe [Hockey] has been there is the focus on emphasising 100 years of mate-ship, being togther fighting through all the wars of the 20th century and the way in which we have been allies in the fight for democracy and liberty. That resonates with him and with senior Americans in both the republic and democratic parities. But the challenge is like in any government, is knowing who is influencing who and who is making the decisions. That is part of getting on the ground and getting to know people there,” he continued.
When asked what he thinks Autralia’s role could be in encouraging the US to condemn Turkey’s violation in Greece’s airspace, Arthur stated that we must continue to “support Greece in its efforts to get stronger economically which will flow through militarily as well…one of things I will be doing in Washington behind the scenes, is talk to people about the facet that we in the west- Europe, US , Australia, and other like-minded countries in the region, we have to rethink our alliances so we don’t fight amongst ourselves and we are more of a united front in dealing with the issues aorund…”
Mr Christos Karras, Consul General of Greece in Sydney was honoured to say a few words on this memorable occasion, and offered his best wishes. “His impressive career and his appointment as Australia’s next Ambassador to the USA are of course personal achievements but they are a source of pride for all Greek Australians. They also indicate that Australia is still a great land of opportunities….Dear arthur you are set to take on the most important Australian Ambassador seat in the world. I am confident that as always, you will do a great job not only for the benefit for Australia but for the benefit of Humanity.
The concluding remarks were stated by the President of HACCI NSW, George Mavrakis who thanked attendees in coming together to celebrate Arthur Sinodinos’ appointment and supporting the Cancer Council and St. Andrew’s Theological College.
*Images by Nick Bourdaniotis/Bourdo Photography (Copyright)