Theo Theophanous

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The Honourable
Theo Charles Theophanous
MLC BA (Hons)
Minister for Industry and Trade
In office
August 2007 – December 2008
Premier John Brumby
Succeeded by Martin Pakula
Minister for Major Projects
In office
1 December 2006 – 24 December 2008
Premier John Brumby
Succeeded by Tim Pallas
Minister for Information and Communication Technology
In office
3 August 2007 – 24 December 2008
Premier John Brumby
Succeeded by John Lenders
Minister for Industry and State Development
In office
December 2006 – August 2007
Premier Steve Bracks
Minister for Resources
In office
December 2002 – December 2006
Premier Steve Bracks
Minister for Energy Industries
In office
December 2002 – December 2006
Premier Steve Bracks
Minister for Small Business
In office
January 1992 – October 1992
Premier Joan Kirner
Minister for Consumer Affairs
In office
August 1991 – October 1992
Premier Joan Kirner
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Jika Jika Province
In office
October 1988 – November 2002
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Northern Metropolitan Region
In office
November 2002 – December 2008
Personal details
Born (1948-06-16) 16 June 1948 (age 68)
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Alma mater La Trobe University
Profession Member of Parliament
Religion Greek Orthodox

Theo Charles Theophanous (born 16 June 1948) is an Australian former politician. He entered politics in 1988 as a Member of the Victorian Legislative Council. Theophanous served from 1988 to 2006 as one of the two members for Jika Jika Province,[1] before the reforms to the Victorian Legislative Council that introduced proportional representation. He served as a Minister in the Kirner Government and as the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council from 1993 until 1999.[2] From 2006 until 2010 he represented the Northern Metropolitan Region and served as Minister in the Bracks and Brumby Governments.[3]

Before entering Parliament he was active in Australian Labor Party (ALP) politics in the federal electorate of Batman and published his views about Ethnicity and Politics in Northcote.[4] He was active in the Socialist Left (SL) faction of the Victorian ALP.[5]

In 1995 he was a candidate for ALP preselection for the seat of Batman for the 1996 Federal election, but withdrew due to pressure from within the party for the preselection to be given to then Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Martin Ferguson.[6]

Despite a public campaign to “Let Batman Vote”, Theophanous withdrew after threats that the National Executive of the ALP would intervene to overturn any local vote and give the preselection to Ferguson.[7]

Theophanous' withdrawal from the Batman preselection meant that he was not able to join his brother Andrew Theophanous in Federal Parliament. Ironically Martin Ferguson joined his own brother Laurie Ferguson in Federal Parliament.

In 1996, Theophanous’ supporters moved a motion of no confidence in the leadership of the Socialist Left faction. This motion was defeated by a narrow margin in a meeting of more than 500 members. Theophanous then walked out of the Socialist Left meeting and left the faction.

Theophanous then formed the Labor Renewal Alliance (LRA) with support from Greek, Latin American and Lebanese branches. The LRA allied itself and eventually merged with the Labor Unity Faction. This dramatically changed the balance of power in the Victorian Labor Party, with Labor Unity and the LRA gaining control of the Australian Labor Party.[8]

With the election of the Bracks government in 1999, Theophanous was made Parliamentary Secretary. He was appointed Minister for Energy and Resources after the 2002 Victorian election.[9]

Theophanous resigned as a Minister in December 2008. He was subsequently cleared of allegations against him; he then resigned from Parliament in February 2010.[10] Since retirement from politics, Theophanous has been an active board member, political commentator, and charity advocate.

Early life[edit]

Theo Charles Theophanous was born on 16 June 1948 in Cyprus and emigrated to Melbourne Australia in 1954. He grew up in Broadmeadows and attended Glenroy High School. Theophanous worked as a Branch Manager for the Gas and Fuel Corporation in the 1970s. In 1980 he attended La Trobe University where he completed a double honours degree in Politics and Sociology achieving First Class Honours. He subsequently tutored at Latrobe University in both Politics and Sociology.

Political career[edit]

Cain-Kirner Years (1988 - 1992)[edit]

Theo Theophanous was first elected to Victorian Parliament in October 1988 with the re-election of the Cain Government. He served as the Chair of the Economic & Budget Committee before being appointed as Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Small Business under the Kirner Government.[11] He introduced Sunday Trading and Consumer Protection Legislation.[12] He is the first Minister of Greek background in the Victorian Parliament.

Kennett Years (1992 - 1999)[edit]

Theo Theophanous served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Legislative Council from 1993 to 1999. Theophanous also serves as Shadow Minister for WorkCover, and led the opposition to Kennett government changes. Theophanous authored the “Economic and financial management of Victoria under Labor”[13] analysis, which recommended financial management principles that were adopted by the ALP in the lead up to the 1999 election.

Bracks Years (1999 – 2007)[edit]

During the first term of the Bracks Labor Government, Theo Theophanous served as Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Employment and Training, and Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry, and Regional Development.[14]

After the re-election of the Bracks Government in 2002, Theophanous was appointed Minister for Industry and State Development and Minister for Major Projects. He introduced the Victorian Renewable Energy Target Scheme[15] and the Basslink Electricity Connection between Victoria and Tasmania[16] during this time.

Brumby Years (2007 – 2010)[edit]

During the Brumby Government between 2007 and his resignation as a Minister in December 2008, Theo Theophanous was Minister for Industry and Trade, Minister for Major Projects and Minister for Information, Communication and Technology. Theophanous was the Minister responsible for the construction of the Melbourne Recital Centre,[17] AAMI Stadium,[18] the Melbourne Convention Centre, the supercomputer at Melbourne University and the La Trobe University Research Centre. Theophanous developed the airline industry in Victoria through the introduction of Etihad Airways, Tiger Airways, Qatar Airlines, and Emirates flights to Melbourne.[19]

Exit from politics[edit]

In December 2008 Theo Theophanous resigned as a Minister in the Brumby Government as a result of impending court proceedings based on an allegation by a woman living in Greece of an incident of rape 10 years earlier.[20]

On 24 July 2009, the charge against him was dismissed after the magistrate ruled that 'the prosecution’s case was not sustainable on the evidence at any level" and that it lacked "credibility, reliability and truthfulness". The magistrate criticized the complainant for "possible coercion" of witnesses and the Victoria Police for "benign acceptance of her allegations without objectivity", describing the complainant's evidence as "unreliable" and "concocted".[21][22]

Theophanous subsequently asked the Greek authorities to pursue charges of criminal defamation against the complainant in an Athens court, claiming the woman had concocted the allegation in an attempt to gain financial benefit.[23] The court found the complainant guilty and sentenced her to 3 years jail (suspended).[24] An appeal was filed on October 2010 which was subsequently heard in a superior Athens court, however the original conviction for criminal defamation was upheld albeit with a reduced 2 years sentence.[25]

Theophanous sought an adjudication from the Australian Press Council in relation to articles published in The Age newspaper which he claimed were false and based in part on an undisclosed conflict of interest by Age journalist Carolyn Webb who was a friend of the complainant.[26] The Australian Press Council upheld the major complaints by Theophanous and their findings were made public on 30 July 2010.[27] The Age newspaper and Victoria Police were subsequently criticized in a full page spread article by Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt who bemoaned the presumption of guilt and trial by media in the Theophanous case.[28] This was followed by further critical comment published by the VexNews website.[29]

Theo Theophanous resigned from Parliament in February 2010 after 22 years of public service.[30]

Post-political career[edit]

Since leaving politics, Theo Theophanous has served on the Board of National Information Communication Technology Australia (NICTA)[31] and the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) Board.[32] He was appointed Ambassador on charitable basis for the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. Theophanous is an active political and social commentator in major Australian newspapers.

Published commentary[edit]

  • Race for Labor’s Soul (The Age, 6 September 2009)[33]
  • Renewing or rebuilding Hazelwood could mean a greener and cheaper future (The Age, 4 April 2011)[34]
  • The Fall of Cyprus a lesson to all (Heraldsun, 14 April 2013)[35]
  • Firm steps towards an unlikely Labor win (Heraldsun, 13 May 2013)[36]
  • Factions and Fictions (The Age, 17 March 2014)[37]
  • Look Overseas for answer to our Aged Care Problem (Heraldsun, 29 April 2014)[38]
  • Flawed system prevents the state election we need (Heraldsun, 9 June 2014)[39]
  • We can have a refugee policy that we can all be proud of (Heraldsun 26 June 2014)[40]
  • Misery of Divided Cyprus should be a warning for Ukraine Rebels (Heraldsun, 19 August 2014)[41]
  • Without help, Ukraine will be another Human Tragedy (Heraldsun, 18 September 2014)[42]


  1. ^ "Parliament of Victoria". 
  2. ^ "The Greeks in Australia". 
  3. ^ "Parliament of Victoria". 
  4. ^ Theo Charles Theophanous (1988), 'The Changing Nature of Greek Involvement in Australian Politics', in A. Kapardis and A. Tamis (eds.), Afstraliotes Hellenes: Greeks in Australia, River Seine Press, Melbourne, pp.231-244 ISBN 0-909367-31-0
  5. ^ Ernest Healy (1993), 'Ethnic ALP Branches - The Balkanisation of Labor,' in People and Place, Vol.1, No.4, Page 40
  6. ^ "ALP National Secretary urges ACTU President, Martin Ferguson, to enter federal politics". 
  7. ^ "Australia in 1995". 
  8. ^ "FAREWELL: George Seitz bids a gracious goodbye to the comrades". 
  9. ^ "Parliament of Victoria". 
  10. ^ "Theophanous resigns from Parliament". 
  11. ^ "Parliament of Victoria". 
  12. ^ "Ministry of Consumer Affairs Annual Report" (PDF). 
  13. ^ "Economic and financial management of Victoria under Labor". 
  14. ^ "Parliament of Victoria". 
  15. ^ "Vic to create renewable energy targets". 
  16. ^ "Extra power to tackle summer heat waves secured". 
  17. ^ "Building music at Melbourne Recital Centre". 
  18. ^ "Brumby takes first look at new Rectangular Stadium". 
  19. ^ "Etihad Airways to fly to Melbourne". 
  20. ^ "Theophanous resigns from Parliament". 
  21. ^ "Just who was raped?". 
  22. ^ "Theophanous rape charged dropped". 
  23. ^ "Theo Theophanous' wife says woman claiming rape is a gold digger". 
  24. ^ "Ex-MP's action against accuser 'about justice'". 
  25. ^ "Theophanous' accuser sentenced in Athens". 
  26. ^ "Age journalist censured for conflict of interest in reporting MP rape allegation". 
  27. ^ "Accusations and Reputations". 
  28. ^ "Age of Smears". 
  29. ^ "The Age Shamed". 
  30. ^ "Theophanous resigns from Parliament". 
  31. ^ "NICTA welcomes two new Board members". 
  32. ^ "Theophanous appointed to MPA". 
  33. ^ "Race for Labor's soul". 
  34. ^ "Renewing or rebuilding Hazelwood could mean a greener and cheaper future". 
  35. ^ "The fall of Cyprus a lesson to all". 
  36. ^ "Firm steps towards an unlikely Labor win". 
  37. ^ "Factions and Fictions". 
  38. ^ "Look overseas for answer to our aged care problem". 
  39. ^ "Flawed system prevents the state election we need". 
  40. ^ "We can have a refugee policy that we can all be proud of". 
  41. ^ "Misery of divided Cyprus should be a warning to Ukraine rebels". 
  42. ^ "Without help, Ukraine will be another human tragedy".