Racial Hate Claim Aimed at Minister
Source: Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia)
May 14, 2003 pg. 31
By Jeremy Kelly
For More Information Visit the Australian Macedonian
Human Rights Committee
Fair Use Only
Assistant multicultural affairs minister John Pandazopoulos has been
accused of breaching the racial hatred laws that he introduced in Parliament.
Comments in which the Gaming Minister allegedly described Macedonians
as "Skopians" have outraged the Macedonian community.
The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee has referred a radio
interview with Mr. Pandazopoulos, done two days before last year's
election, to the Equal Opportunity Commission.
The commission will decide if Mr. Pandazopoulos has a case to answer.
In a letter, the group says it was disgusted to hear Mr. Pandazopoulos
refer to "Skopians" in an interview on an SBS Greek language
Chairman George Vlahov said the term was devised by chauvinist Greeks
in the 1990s to abuse Macedonians and deny the existence of a Macedonian
"Considering the Minister's portfolio, he should be well aware
of the critical importance cultural groups attach to the right of self-identification," Mr.
Vlahov has told the commission. "Yet, the Minister chose to publicly
and flagrantly ignore this right.
"Considering the timing of the statement, one could assume that
this was an attempt to cement Greek votes by pandering to the seemingly
prevalent chauvinism that exists within that community."
Mr. Vlahov has demanded the Premier, Steve Bracks, sack Mr. Pandazopoulos
because use of the term was as bad as using derogatory names for Aborigines
Mr. Bracks said the matter was before the courts. He said he was unable
to say whether Mr. Pandazopoulos' legal fees would be paid by the Government.
A spokesman for Mr. Pandazopoulos, Geoff Fraser, said it would be
inappropriate to comment at this stage.
The Racial and Religious Tolerance Bill set maximum penalties of six
months' jail or fines of up to $6000 for intentional racial or religious