The life of Jim Fouras which took him from a rural Greek village to Speaker of the Queensland Parliament has been remembered by the state’s leaders on Wednesday.
Demetrios ‘Jim’ Fouras died aged 83 in November last year, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk led a condolence motion for the former Labor MP who in 1977 became the first Greek-born member of an Australian parliament.
Fouras knew less than 100 English words when he arrived in Australia
His knowledge of English was poor and he knew less than 100 words. He received his secondary education at The Southport School and was awarded the school’s chemistry prize.
He attended the University of Queensland and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (1963) and a Bachelor of Economics. Fouras was a research chemist and then a marketing economist with the Department of Primary Industries.
He joined the Labor party in the 1960s before winning the seat of South Brisbane. After winning two subsequent elections he worked at the Australian Human Rights Commission before returning to politics to win the seat of Ashgrove in 1989 as Labor won power in the state for the first time since 1957.
He tasted victory at five more elections and served as speaker of the house between 1990 and 1996 before retiring in 2006.
Advocate for social justice
Fouras was in 2014 made a member of the Order of Australia for service to the Queensland Parliament and as an advocate for social justice, and was previously awarded life membership to the Australian Labor Party.
“Jim was an energetic and passionate person, as these awards recognized, and his family can be absolutely proud of his life,” Palaszczuk said.
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli remembered Fouras as succeeding in the challenging task of being a bipartisan speaker in an environment driven by party politics.
“He forged himself a reputation as a defender of the house and its members, and as one who sought to uphold the supremacy of the parliament itself,” Crisafulli said.
Fouras is survived by his wife Tanya, his children Yanoula, Athanasi, and Andreas, and seven grandchildren.