Monthly Archives:April 2019

Bollywood’s golden age in Australia’s Greek community ( admin posted on April 17th, 2019 )

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio – click on the audio tab to listen to the item):


As Australia prepares for a visit from one of Bollywood’s biggest actors Shahrukh Khan, Greek-Australian Peter Yiannoudes is looking back at another era of Bollywood cinema in Australia.



Peter Yiannoudes imported films from Greece for Australia’s Greek community and then expanded to include Indian films, mainly Bollywood features which played to packed houses of mainly Greek migrants in the 1950s and 1960s.


He’s now setting up a museum in Melbourne with some of his favourite movie posters from that era.


Peggy Giakoumelos has the story.


(Sound effects of movie):


That’s actors Raj Kumar and Nargis, from the 1957 Hindi epic film Mother India.


The movie tells the tale of a poor rural village woman named Radha, whose family is in debt to a money lender.


With her husband losing his arms in an accident, she struggles to raise her children.


This tale of social injustice and rural hardship resonated with Greeks overseas and in Australia at the time, as did many Indian films.


Peter Yiannoudes says so much so, that at the first screening of Mother India in a Greek cinema in Australia, police had to be called control crowds angry at not being able to get a seat.


“Mother India was the biggest success we ever had outside of the Greek film Golfo. It was 1964 when we released the film in the National Theatre on Bridge Street in Richmond. It was a small theatre about 1000 seats. The theatre was pre-booked nearly two weeks earlier. So on that particular day nearly 5000 people came to see the film. So we called the police to send the people away and allow inside the cinema only the people who had the tickets pre-booked. And the Sun-Herald wrote that never before had that happened in cinema like that.”


Peter Yiannoudes, who migrated to Australia in the 1950s from Cyprus, says his love of cinema was forged from necessity.


Forced to leave school early to make ends meet, he took a job at a local movie house before migrating to Australia and running more than 40 cinemas around the country.


His cinemas mainly catered to Australia’s large community of Greek migrants who like those back home in Greece, were mad for Indian musicals.


After a meeting with an Indian superstar, Peter Yiannoudes decided to introduce Indian films to Australia.


“In 1959 I met the Indian actress Nargis. Nargis was the most popular actress in India and in Greece as well and in Egypt. So she persuaded me to go to India and start showing Indian as well as Greek films. So I went in 1959 and I stayed a couple of weeks in India and then I came to an agreement with two studios there, and in 1961 we brought the first Indian film to Australia, just to see how Greeks can accept this Indian film and really it was a very, very big success.”


Why the appeal?


Dramatic themes of social adversity, poverty, migration, meddling families, and of course everyone’s perennial favourite, love – were themes prominent in the films of both cultures.


Add to this a backdrop of highly choreographed singing and dancing – and the allure of Bollywood became a perfect fit for Greeks looking for some escapism after the country’s brutal civil war.


And while the cross-cultural influence mainly went one way from India to Greece – there was one Greek actress who did manage to break into the Indian market – bleached blonde Aliki Vougiouklaki.


Here she is singing a number influenced by the Bollywood genre.


(Sound of singing)


That’s a song from the Greek film The Lady and the Tramp, released in the late 1960s – reflective of the Bollywood influence on Greek cinema.


The University of Sydney’s Professor of Modern Greek Studies Vrasidas Karalis has written widely on the history of Greek cinema and its Indian influences.


“The connections between Greece and India go back to the historical and especially they can be traced back into the music especially India has influenced Greece in the production of the songs that we have, the most popular Greek songs, are originally of Hindi origin. According to the research of Dimitris Eleftheriotis, He proved that essentially the Greek melodramas of the mid 60s and late 60s were of were essentially modelled along of Hindi musicals and Bollywood musicals.”


Vrasidas Karalis says it was a simple yet successful formula.


“The recipe was so successful that is to say drama, songs, drama songs, and finally in the end you have this huge explosion of both drama and songs that made everyone cry and was really successful.”


Anupam Sharma is an Indian-Australian film-maker and was also one of the judges of Australia’s first Bollywood reality show on SBS TV.


He’s also written a number of research papers about the history of Bollywood cinema.


Anupam Sharma says the connection between Australia and Bollywood goes back to the 1930s when an Australian of Greek and Scottish origin became one of the biggest stars of Indian cinema.


Largely unknown in Australia, Fearless Nadia got around in a mask and hat and with whip in hand, became one of India’s most successful female actors and stuntwomen.


“Blue-eyed blonde from Perth, Mary Evans became the first franchise and lead actress in Bollywood known as Fearless Nadia or the Fearless Hunterwali. SInce then there have been ups and downs, we have had sporadic exchanges, until about 1996 when a major Indian film shot a major song and dance sequence with the Opera House in the background and that kind of ignited interest for Australian locations in Bollywood. And then in 1998 Feroz Khan, India’s Clint Eastwood, decided to script Australia into his film, and shoot here and I believe that was a major milestone. There have been over 300 projects which include feature films, music videos, tv serials, film festivals, seminars, discussions delegations, books and a lot of Australian crew going to India and working in India on Bollywood films lots of specialist crews going there. I call it like an Indian goddess it has many arms.”


Anupam Sharma says Bollywood cinema has been popular in many other countries outside India – mainly in the Middle East, Greece, North Africa and Russia.


But in Australia, except within migrant communities, it’s been slower for the genre to catch on.


The 2011 Australian Census showed there were close to 300,000 Indian-born people living in Australia, up by 200,000 in a decade.


Add to this increased migration from other South Asian countries where Bollywood films are also widely watched, and the popularity of the genre is increasing.


Anupam Sharma says it’s too early to tell how much of an impact Bollywood will eventually have in Australia.


“It’s still to be decided whether they’re getting more into Bollywood cinema as a novelty factor or on a regular basis. And that’s a very important discussion. That’s very important research on its own. A lot of people go and see Bollywood film tongue in cheek with a wine glass, and say ok, we have had a Bollywood experience and they are others who get hooked on to it, something like the Greeks did or the Russians did ages ago. There are others which are getting hooked onto Indian cinema which is more than just Bollywood. So there are different sectors and sub-sections out there. But it is fair to say that Bollywood is certainly the music the dance, the colour is certainly catching on in Australia to good results.”


Peter Yiannoudes is planning to open his Melbourne museum to the general public later this year.


He says it will feature some of his more than 10,000 Greek and Indian movie poster collection as well as other items from his more than 50 years in the film industry.


By Peggy Giakoumelos


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Obeid’s hidden interests ‘deplorable’ ( admin posted on April 17th, 2019 )

Eddie Obeid’s failure to reveal secret family interests in lucrative harbourside businesses he lobbied ministers over is deplorable, former NSW treasurer Michael Costa has told a corruption inquiry.


Mr Costa on Monday told the Independent Commission Against Corruption that Mr Obeid had subjected him to “low intensity lobbying”.

The one-time Labor powerbroker had argued retail lease holders at Circular Quay were treated unfairly and the government had made unfulfilled promises, Mr Costa said.

The inquiry earlier heard Mr Obeid’s family owned a cafe and two restaurants at the quay, controlled through a company owned by a family trust.

Relative and associate John Aboud acted as the face of the company.

The Circular Quay leases, which earned the Obeids about $2.5 million annually, were due to go to public tender on expiry in 2005.

But the lessees were against this and engaged a lawyer and a property specialist.

Mr Obeid also lobbied several ministers on their behalf, it’s been alleged.

Mr Costa was ports minister from January to August in 2005 and was a member of Mr Obeid’s powerful Terrigal faction.

“(Obeid) told you that the people down at the quay were being treated unfairly – did he ask you to do anything specific about that?” counsel assisting the inquiry Ian Temby asked Mr Costa.

“He never asked me to do anything specific,” he replied.

“I would describe this as, in terms of lobbying, low intensity.”

Then he took a swipe at his former faction leader.

“If Eddie Obeid had leases or a financial interest in any leases at Circular Quay, he had an obligation, both a political and an ethical obligation, to advise anyone that he was lobbying,” Mr Costa said.

“In addition there was a responsibility to have it on his pecuniary interests.

“Not doing that is, I think, deplorable.”

Former senior bureaucrat Steve Dunn was questioned on Monday morning and denied Mr Obeid made known his family’s ownership of the enterprises.

“Anyone who was in that situation should have declared their interest,” Mr Dunn said.

He acknowledged he had a `specific interest’ in the leases after speaking to Mr Obeid.

But he refuted Mr Temby’s assertion this interest was because he was seeking to favour Mr Obeid.

“These were matters which were of interest to Mr Obeid,” he said.

“I do not believe I was doing anything for him that I would not have done for another person making similar representations.”

Another former ports minister, Carl Scully, is due to give evidence on Tuesday.

The inquiry is expected to continue for two weeks.

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What has happened in the WA Senate count? ( admin posted on April 17th, 2019 )

By Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

In Western Australia, three Liberals and one Labor candidate are certain of election.


The initial results showed that the last two seats were being won by a second Labor candidate, and Palmer United Party (PUP). However, this was the result of a 14-vote difference between the Shooters & Fishers and the Australian Christians. If the Shooters are ahead of the Christians at the point where one of these two parties is excluded, the last two seats go to PUP and Labor, but if the Christians are ahead, these last two seats go to the Sports party and the Greens. On the initial results, the Shooters led the Christians by 14 votes at this point, leading to the election of PUP and Labor.

A request for a recount was initially denied, but this decision was reversed on appeal to the Electoral Commissioner. However, last Thursday the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) announced that 1,375 votes had gone missing, and could not be found. 1,255 of these votes were initially recorded as above the line ticket votes, but no party breakdown has been given.

On Saturday, the AEC carried out a new distribution of preferences in which the Christians beat the Shooters by 12 votes, but this new distribution does not include any of the 1,375 missing votes. Due to this new distribution, the Greens and Sports party are elected instead of Labor and PUP. Antony Green says that the AEC cannot legally use the original count for the missing votes, together with the recounted votes for the rest of WA; they have to use only the recounted votes.

The missing votes come from four booths in the electorates of Forrest and Pearce, but only some of the votes in the four affected booths are missing. As a result, it is difficult to calculate exactly how the Christians vs Shooters race has been affected by the missing votes. The Poll Bludger cites Ben Raue at the Tallyroom, and an anonymous poster on Truth Seeker’s Senate results blog. Ben Raue thinks the Shooters lost a net fifteen votes from the missing votes, and the anonymous poster thinks they lost thirteen net votes. If these posters are right, the Shooters would still lead the Christians by 1-3 votes once the missing votes are included. In this situation, a tie would see the Shooters eliminated on a countback.

Clearly, the results without these 1,375 votes are flawed, and will be challenged in the High Court, acting as the Court of Disputed Returns. The Court will not allow the current flawed results to stand. There are two options for the High Court. First, they can declare this election to be void; in this case a completely new Senate election would need to be held in WA. Second, the High Court could direct the AEC to include the missing votes as first counted. The Court could also issue its own rulings on challenged votes, meaning that the 1-3 vote margin in favour of the Shooters could be changed. Probably at least a 5-vote margin either way would be necessary for the Court to conclude that the Shooters had beaten the Christians, or vice versa, given that errors may have also affected the missing votes that now cannot be checked.

Since Senators elected at this year’s election will not take their place until July 2014, there is time to hold another election. If the Court does decide that another election is necessary, it will almost certainly be held under the same rules as applied at this election, with six seats to be contested. It is possible that the balance of power in the Senate could be changed by such an election.

Fairfax Recount Concluded

Clive Palmer won the seat of Fairfax by just 53 votes last Thursday, and will now take his seat in the House of Representatives. The Liberals could challenge Palmer’s victory in court, but this would undoubtedly antagonise Palmer, and the margin is probably too high to be overturned. This means that the final seat result for the House is: Coalition 90, Labor 55, Independents 2, Greens 1, PUP 1 and Katter Party 1.

When final two party figures are published, I will write a concluding article on the election.

Adrian Beaumont does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Solar eclipse sweeps across Africa, Europe and US ( admin posted on April 17th, 2019 )

A total eclipse could be seen over parts of Africa and one of the best views was in northern Kenya’s Sibiloi national park, where a few hundred tourists gathered on the edge of the desert lake Turkana.



Alongside the tourists were colourfully dressed Kenyans from the Turkana, Rendile and Dasanach tribes, many draped in beads, who cheered as the sky darkened.

But dramatic weather almost spoilt the show, with sandstorms, rain, a rainbow and heavy cloud all minutes before the eclipse, an AFP photographer said.

Some tourists, fearing they would miss the sight, jetted off at the last minute, seeking a clearer spot on other side of lake.

In the end, the eclipse, which lasted about 10 seconds in Kenya, was partially obscured by cloud.

Sky-gazers in Gabon, Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia were also treated to the total eclipse.

“I saw a black disc progressively cover the sun. It’s magnificent,” said Clarence Diledou, who lives of Gabon’s port town of Port-Gentil.

“But unfortunately the bad weather spoiled the party a bit.”

The west African nation got peak viewing of the total eclipse as it swept over a path nearly 60 kilometres wide.  

In Port-Gentil, families gathered together for the occasion along the sea front, facing the sun.

Like many in the town, Diledou used special glasses distributed by authorities to watch the rare event.

Those who did not have any came up with imaginative solutions, among them Pauline Koumba, who put a bowl of water in her courtyard and watched the reflected eclipse.

“I saw the brief passage of the eclipse in my bowl. But it was over quickly and the black clouds spoiled the effect,” she said.

Families also gathered in Gabon’s capital Libreville, where the eclipse was less spectacular, but where the skies darkened noticeably for about half an hour from 1330 GMT.

In the eastern United States, viewers caught sight of a partial eclipse lasting 45 minutes close to sunrise.

Partial views were also available in southern European countries Spain, Italy, Greece, and also in Iraq.

The round shape of the Earth explains why viewers in Africa saw a total eclipse, while those in the United States and Europe only saw the sun partly obscured.

Experts say a safe way to view an eclipse is by making a pinhole camera -piercing a tiny hole in a piece of paper then turning your back to the sun and using the pierced page to project the image of the sun on another sheet of paper.

Solar Eclipse and Milky Way seen from ISS (International Space Station)

— Earth Pics (@PicturesEarth) November 1, 2013

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Retail spending continues to improve ( admin posted on April 17th, 2019 )

Retail spending continues to improve, driven by department store sales, reflecting the recent bounce in consumer confidence since the federal election.


Retail spending rose 0.8 per cent in September to $22.15 billion, beating economists’ expectations of a 0.4 per cent rise, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

“In the last couple of months, sales growth has ticked up a fair bit, coming in sync with the better consumer confidence numbers of late,” JP Morgan economist Ben Jarman said.

“Department store sales have been the clear outperformer for the last couple of months but that was after they essentially tanked in July, so we think it’s coming back after a bit of a distortion at mid-year.

“But we’re still a bit skeptical that you can see much of an uplift when labour income growth has been so weak, the hiring side of things has been so poor for so long, so we’re a little bit skeptical about whether this can be sustained.”

The ABS also released house prices data, showing prices rose 1.9 per cent in the September quarter and 7.6 per cent in the year to September.

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the data showed the housing market, particularly in Sydney, was on the rise.

“In the nation’s largest property market, things really are starting to heat up,” he said.

“In Melbourne as well, price appreciation was very strong and also in Brisbane.

“A big part of the Reserve Bank story is that they’ve been trying to revive the construction sector so I think the big uptick we’ve seen in prices definitely is supportive of that, as higher prices encourage activity and investment.”

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Michael Workman said the improvement in retail sales shows consumer confidence surged once the federal election was out of the way.

“There were also other things going on, the stockmarket improved dramatically over September as did the house price series,” Mr Workman said.

“There was a bit of a recovery in house prices, it was a pretty good result if you own a dwelling.”

Mr Workman said both sets of economic figures showed there was solid improvement in the non-mining parts of the economy.

“It follows a protracted period where we had pretty weak consumer spending figures and a delayed response to low mortgage lending rates,” he said.

“The next big step would be for consumer confidence to pick up a little bit more and also for businesses to act on this.

“Better business confidence should lead to more investment.”

Mr Workman said the improved data makes the chances of a cash rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia even less likely.

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