Andrew Kostopoulos (a member of my chambers) has been appearing at ICAC (in the enquiry that resulted in the premier’s resignation). On the morning of 7 April 2014, after inviting colleagues to a Hellenic Filoxenia, he raised the following issue:
“Second on a more serious note I take great exception to being referred to as a Greek barrister by the media and press as recently reported or by members of the profession,… I’m a third generation Australian, your Honour, from country stock in Tully Queensland who is Counsel at the New South Wales Bar. I’ve served my country as an officer with the Australian Army Legal Corp for 11 years, …. The only medium I have to express these views is through addressing the Independent Commission Against Corruption and with Counsel Assisting by my side as my policy at the bar has always been not to feed fodder to the media directly from my lips.
I am aware, Commissioner, reputations of witnesses and persons before ICAC are precious and can be ruined by this process of ICAC in a most public hearing like the present one. The reputation of the Hellenic community of Australia is also featured prominently here in the ICAC. …the Hellenes have been spotlighted here by the media with, for example reference on the weekend to a Greek tragedy by the media. This is highly offensive. Any reference to the term Greek which derives from the Latin word Grauci G-r-a-u-c-i is offensive to both me and the Hellenic community in Australia as the Greeks here are, as the Greeks were an unruly nomadic tribe of barbarians the Hellenes were not.
…The Hellenes on the other hand were ethical, hard working and intelligent thinkers, innovators and philosophers of all type hence my complaint through you, Commissioner, that any reference to the word Greek is offensive to me during this ICAC hearing and thereby, for I point that to the media.
The proper reference should be Hellenes, Hellas and Hellenic to reflect the spirit of Hellenism which I represent here in Sydney which embraces, extends and includes those Hellenes who have given evidence or will give evidence before Independent Commission Against Corruption if or until a funding is made against them by the Independent Commission Against Corruption which is contrary to the Hellenic spirit. Then it is a matter for the media to comment as they please. Thank you, Commissioner.”
THE COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr Kostopoulos. That is duly noted and the Commission appreciates the fact that you have made that distinction clear for all purposes.
Full transcript here.
Creative commons acknowledgement for the photograph.