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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2100..


Question so resolved in the negative.

Death of Mr Tom Efkarpidis

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts) (10.43): I move:

That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr Tom Efkarpidis, a prominent Canberra businessman and citizen, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues in their bereavement.

The contribution made to the building of Canberra by Greek immigrants has its legacy everywhere-in our office blocks and shopping centres, our cafe culture and our markets-but few individuals have left a greater, or more indelible, mark than Tom Efkarpidis, who died on 3 August.

Tom, more formally Theophilos Efkarpidis, an orphaned child of refugees, was born in Russia, arriving in Greece as a Pontian refugee. He travelled to Australia in June of 1962, living and working originally in a number of New South Wales country towns. Upon the arrival in Australia of his younger brother, Tim, the Efkarpidis clan settled in Canberra, a city which they had recognised of great promise, poised for great growth, offering immense opportunity to migrants of energy and ability.

Security did not come quickly or easily. The brothers worked double shifts in a fish shop and as painters before amassing enough money to buy their own small business, a fish shop in Curtin. Before long they were the proud owners of the first supermarket in the then brand new suburb of Higgins. It was the first of many supermarkets, leading eventually to the conglomerate known to every Canberran as the ShopRite corporation, with 30 supermarkets dotted across the city and, at that time, 55 per cent of the supermarket custom in the ACT.

Tom and Tim then expanded their horizons into building and real estate. They bought the historic Melbourne Building in Civic and reinvigorated and transformed the Belconnen fruit markets. But the immense energy and drive which saw Tom go from humble beginnings to financial success were qualities that stood him in good stead in other areas of his life too. He was no one-dimensional businessman, but a true member of the Greek and the broader Canberra communities.

He was among those who campaigned energetically for the erection of an Australian Hellenic war memorial near the Australian War Memorial, and served on the board of the Hellenic memorial. Tom was a lifelong and dedicated supporter of the Returned and Services League of the ACT.

The links between Greek and Australian soldiers in both wars had touched him greatly. On Anzac Day in 1985, 14 members of the Greek community, led by Tom Efkarpidis, participated in Canberra's Anzac Day march. Later, Tom helped establish the Hellenic sub-branch of the RSL. He and three other members were later named honorary life presidents of the branch by the then Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen.


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