Member’s Statement: George Zangalis

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (Thursday, 6 May 2021) (09:42): I was privileged to recently attend and address the public memorial for George Zangalis, a giant of the left in Australia, who passed away on 26 March aged 90. George Zangalis is a name familiar to many of us as a true leader of working-class people, a fighter for justice whose pioneering legacy lives on through better rights at work. He was a staunch early leading advocate of multiculturalism, committed to human rights for the vulnerable minorities in our community.

Born in Epirus in Greece, George arrived in Australia with his family in 1950. As with many migrants, he became involved in the industrial sector and had his first job in a car factory. Experiencing firsthand the challenges migrant workers faced, George was fiercely driven to actively lobby for fair and equitable working conditions through the trade union movement and was elected president of the Australian Railways Union in 1988. George poignantly captured this experience in his book, called Migrant Workers and Ethnic Communities: Their Struggles for Social Justice and Cultural Rights—The Role of Greek-Australians. He lived by his conviction, and I quote:

You must never step away from the fight to make the world a better place. You must fight injustice in all its forms.

George became a founding and life member of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria and an official at the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, and he served on the ABC advisory council, the board of SBS and the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council. He played a pivotal role with 3ZZZ and continued his advocacy as vice-president of the Fair Go for Pensioners coalition. He was a highly respected mentor for many and will be fondly remembered for his kindness and activism. Vale, George Zangalis.

Hansard link: George Zangalis