SYDNEY: The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) has congratulated prominent community member, Gladys Berejiklian on her ascension to the position of Premier of the country's largest state of New South Wales (NSW) following the resignation of Mike Baird.
The NSW Liberal Party met on the morning of Monday, 23rd January to choose its new parliamentary party leader, and elected the unopposed team of Treasurer Berejiklian and Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, who will be Deputy. The 46-year-old granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors was therefore confirmed as the first female Liberal Party Premier and will lead the state of 7.5 million until at least the next elections in 2019.
ANC-AU congratulated Berejiklian on behalf of the Armenian-Australian community, many of whom personally know the new Premier.
Berejiklian has been involved in many community Armenian community organisations since her youth, from her scouting and basketball days under the Homenetmen Australia banner, to her days as an outspoken up-and-comer in the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia, all the way to her learning and practicing the political ropes as a Board member of the Armenian National Committee of Australia.
Before the community had an Armenian day school, Berejiklian attended Hamazkaine's Saturday School during her student years and is fluent in Armenian, the only language she spoke until the age of five. She continues to be ever-present in the Sydney Armenian community.
Since her election as the NSW State Member for Willoughby in 2003, Berejiklian has been instrumental in representing Armenian community concerns in Parliament and educating her fellow parliamentarians on issues of importance, including Federal Australian recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the rights to self-determination of Armenians of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.
The State of NSW has twice recognised the Armenian Genocide and has a Khatchkar in the Parliament House's Peace Garden in memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. NSW has also recognised the rights to self-determination for the Armenians of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.
Berejiklian was instrumental in helping ANC-AU organise the visit to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh by a delegation of politicians in 2013. This visit to Nagorno Karabakh earned her a place on Azerbaijan's persona-non-grata list, along with her fellow delegation members.
ANC-AU Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian commented: "Our community continues to be proud of Ms Berejiklian as she is an inspiration to all Armenian-Australians. This latest achievement is testament to her hard work on behalf of the people of New South Wales since entering public office in 2003, and we at the Armenian National Committee look forward to continuing working with her in the State's highest office."
Berejiklian has been awarded the Armenian-Australian Community's Friend of the Year by ANC-AU, as well as earning a Medal of Gratitude by the President of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, Bako Sahakyan.
ANC-AU has also congratulated Mike Baird on his service as Premier of NSW for the past three years.