Melbourne, September 21: Sankat Mochan Samiti (SMS) celebrated its 10 years of community service last month and Premier Daniel Andrews and local member Steve Dimopolous attended the celebrations at its current abode at the North Road (1289A North Road) Huntingdale.

With elections coming up in November, Premier Andrews’s multicultural sweeteners – enshrined in the 2018 budget – which increased government’s funding for multicultural communities only marginally – came in handy.

Speaking at the function, Premier, to the utmost delight of the devoted listeners promulgated, “I am so pleased to announce that SMS has been successful in the grant and a sum of $550,000 will be available towards a new Indian Cultural Centre for the Monash Region.

Premier made a further promise of $500,000 to SMS, on top of $550,000 if re-elected in November.

“… I want to make a further commitment to you, that the re-elected Labour Government will add to that 550,000 Dollars and provide a further 500,000 Dollars so that SMS can begin that important work of investing in better facilities”, the Premier added.

Steve Dimopoulos, MP for Oakleigh has been helping the group.

Premier had made a similar announcement back in 2014. But there was a difference in the tenor of his speech this time. Premier clarified that the government was investing in the Indian Centre for the local Indian community in Monash, but it will be headed by SMS.

“We do not want to change any of the things you SMS do and any of the work you do.  That is all fine and that is all going very well.  We just need to get you a slightly better set of facilities, a better home, a better base for this SMS group and for others.  These will be assets for the entire Indian Community right across Monash and it will be led by SMS.”

An ecstatic SMS committee had reason to celebrate. They told their members:

“Sankat Mochan Samiti Inc. (SMS) is pleased to announce that on its 10th Anniversary Celebration the premier announced the success of the SMS’s Grant Application for the Multicultural Community Infrastructure for, “Construction of Sankat Mochan Indian Community Centre – SMICC”.  The grant of 550,000 dollars has been approved and a further promise of another 500,000 dollars has been made if the Labour Government is reelected in the forthcoming elections…”.

Hope this money is real unlike many things politicians promise and those things never get “action-ed”.  Is there doubt?

Through a media release, Ms Peulich has cast serious doubts on this promise. Ms Peulich says a similar election sweetener was seen in 2014 when Labor promised to build several Indian cultural hubs, including one in the City of Monash, four years late, the election promise has not been delivered.

Suggesting it to be another promise to win votes, Ms Peulich said, “Premier Andrews, the Labor Party and their union masters have proved time and time again they are willing to do anything, say anything and promise anything to win an election”.

The community should be bracing itself for more promises and new moneys being found by both parties – while they play treasure hunt until the end of November 2018.

With Opposition casting doubts on government announcements, elections here in Australia have started to feel more like elections in India –tailor-made promises to potential vote banks. The question for intelligentsia is – has it worked in India?

In the meantime, for community’s sake, wish SMS luck.

– K. Dev

feature image: Premier Dan Andrews at Sankat Mochan Samiti announcing $55000 for community centre

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