Worst of recession is nearly over, says Greek PM

Source: Guardian News & Media 2013

A file photo fo Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
AP A file photo fo Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Antonis Samaras says economy is regaining its competitiveness and is on track to return to pre-crisis levels

The Prime Minister of Greece Antonis Samaras has insisted the worst is almost over for his country and reassured Greeks that the debt-stricken nation’s longest recession would soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Boosted by figures showing the economy contracting by 3.8% in the second quarter — its smallest decline since the outbreak of Athens’s worst financial crisis in modern times — the leader said the country’s dependency on foreign lenders was also nearing an end.

“Greece is turning a page … all the international organisations agree that next year, 2014, will be the year of recovery for the Greek economy,” he told industry and business leaders attending the annual Thessaloniki trade fair. “Last year most abroad were predicting that Greece would exit the euro.

Now they are predicting the exact opposite. That Greece will exit the recession and stay in the euro,” he said promising that the progress would hail the end of unpopular austerity.

The fair is traditionally used by Greek prime ministers to outline their economic policies. Using the keynote speech to list the achievements of his 14-month government, Mr. Samaras said Athens had not only made the biggest fiscal adjustment “in world history”, but emerged with an economy that in regaining its competitiveness was on track to return to pre-crisis levels.

Much of the rebound is due to an unexpectedly good tourism season.

Re-elected Xenophon urges Senate voting changes

Source: ABCNews

Nick Xenophon

Re-elected independent Senator Nick Xenophon said changes to the Senate voting system were needed so the public could better understand preference flows.

Senator Xenophon outpolled Labor on first votes for the upper house, with the ALP expected to secure only one South Australian Senate position from the weekend ballot.

Three new micro-parties could have Senators in the new parliament.

Senator Xenophon said such parties secured a tiny portion of first-preference votes but benefited from complex preference deals.

“I think we actually need to look at whether the system can be made more transparent, whether the public can be better educated in terms of the way preferences work.

Clearly there is some scope for reform,” he said.

“But let’s not have any reform that’s tailored towards the major parties or even the big minor parties. I think we need to have a fair system in place that encourages diversity and democracy.”

Election 2013 – Winners and losers

The change of government has claimed some high-profile scalps and left some surprise survivors, while there have been some close calls as previously safe seats look like being retained on wafer-thin margins.

Here are a selection of winners and losers:

Winners
Chris Bowen Chris Bowen (ALP)McMahonMissed the Labor launch to throw everything into retaining his seat. It paid off, but hard yards of Opposition are his reward.
CUSTOM Nova Peris Nova Peris (ALP)SenateJulia Gillard’s captain’s pick has become the first Indigenous woman in the Australian Parliament after securing the second spot in the Northern Territory.
Mal Brough file photo Mal Brough (LNP)FisherEmbroiled in a bitter battle – at the ballot box and in court – against former speaker Peter Slipper, but the former minister returns.
Fiona Scott Fiona Scott (Liberals)LindsayThe notoriety gained by her leader’s “sex appeal” comment helped Scott take the key western Sydney marginal.
Andrew Wilkie Andrew Wilkie (Independent)DenisonWhile other independents have called it quits at this election, Wilkie will survive in the Hobart seat via preference flows.
Barnaby Joyce Barnaby Joyce (Nationals)New EnglandThe Nationals deputy leader has successfully made the transition from upper house to lower – and from Queensland to NSW.
Adam Bandt holds Melbourne Adam Bandt (Greens)MelbourneThe sole Greens representative in the lower house has survived the preferencing blackout to make Melbourne firmly Green territory.
Wayne Swan Wayne Swan (ALP) LilleyPredictions of the former treasurer’s demise proved unfounded as Swan survived with only a slight swing against him.
Clive Palmer Clive Palmer (Palmer United Party)FairfaxPalmer could end up an MP, but even if that charge loses steam his party has attracted widespread support.
Sarah Hanson-Young Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens)SenateHad been facing a tough ask to retain the quota after preferencing deals among other parties, but has managed to hold on.
Nick Xenophon Nick Xenophon (Independent) SenateA strong showing has seen the Independent senator secure the second SA senate seat, outpolling Labor’s Penny Wong on the night.
CUSTOM Glenn Lazarus Glenn Lazarus (Palmer United Party)SenateThe former rugby league prop is set to ride the Palmer wave into the upper house at the bottom of the Queensland quota.
Losers
Jaymes Diaz Jaymes Diaz (Liberals)GreenwayThe seldom-seen candidate could not capitalise on anti-Labor feeling in western Sydney after his cringe-worthy campaign clanger.
Peter Beattie Peter Beattie (ALP)FordeThe former premier could not make much of an impact in an attempted move south of the Brisbane river.
David Bradbury David Bradbury (ALP)LindsayThe highest profile casualty of the anti-Labor swing, which spared other Cabinet-level members, Bradbury fell to Scott.
Bob Katter Bob Katter (Katter’s Australian Party)KennedyThe maverick regional Qld MP has seen his 18% margin shrink to only 2% after a massive swing against him to the Coalition.
James Blundell James Blundell (Katter’s Australian Party)SenateThrew his hat in the ring under the Bob Katter banner, but voters favoured Palmer United instead. He is not the first person to come off second best in a tussle with Glenn Lazarus.
Sophie Mirabella Sophie Mirabella (Liberals)IndiSuffered a 7% swing against her in an election in which the tide went towards her party. If she holds on, her seat will become a marginal but a place in the ministry awaits.
Craig Thomson Craig Thomson (Independent)DobellThe controversial former Labor MP lost his bid to hold onto his seat as an Independent as he continued his legal battles.
Julian Assange Julian Assange (The Wikileaks Party)SenateHis Senate run faltered with 1% of the vote in Victoria and no boost from micro-party preferences.
Bill Glasson Bill Glasson (LNP)GriffithA tireless local campaign by the high-profile challenger could not unseat the reinstated former prime minister.
jenny macklin custom 220 x 124 Jenny Macklin (ALP)JagajagaWill retain her seat on preferences after an 8% swing against her turned her double digit margin into a nerve-jangling 3%.
Christine Milne Christine Milne (Greens)SenateThe Greens lost the balance of power in the Senate to a collection of cross-benchers after a 3% swing against it nationally, essentially giving back its gains from the 2010 high mark.
Darren Cheeseman Darren Cheeseman (ALP) CorangamiteThe most marginal seat in the former parliament fell to former ABC journalist Sarah Henderson on her second attempt.
Dick Adams Dick Adams (ALP)LyonsThe people of Lyons do not change members often – but the swing that largely left Queensland untouched tore through Tasmanian seats instead.

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This is the first time in the history of Australian politics that the government formed by the new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, may include two Greek ministers, Athanasios Synodinos and Sophia Panopoulou – Mirabela.

The new Prime Minister may assign the Ministry of Finance and Deregulation to the Greek Liberal Senator, Athanasios Synodinos.

Synodinos’ parents were Greek immigrants. His father was in the navy. Synodinos has contributed significantly to the return of the Coalition in power.

He is proud of his Greek ancestry and stresses he would never change his Greek name into a Saxon name aiming to rise more easily to higher political offices.

Sophia Panopoulou – Mirabela was Shadow Minister for Industry and she is believed to be given the same ministry in the new government. She comes from Corinth and is known for her strong personality and conservative positions.

Another Greek who will not be a minister in the government, but one of the most powerful players in the Australian political scene, is the independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon.