George Souris receives AM

HONOURED: George and Vassy Souris at home in SingletonIn a classic migrant success story George Souris the son of Greek immigrants is awarded one of this country’s highest honours the Order of Australia.
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Mr Souris the former long time state member for Upper Hunter and government minister was thrilled and honoured to receive the award in recognition ofhis significant service to the people and community of the Upper Hunter.

For someone who has often undertaken the work required to ensure others in his community have received similar recognition Mr Souris said his life in politics was alwaysabout his desire to serve his communityand improve outcomes for everyone in NSW.

Mr Souris greatly admired the resilience and work ethicof his parents Theo and Kanella who were separated for 15 years following his father’s arrival in Australia before the second World War.

His mother and two siblings remainedon the Greek islandof Kythera enduring invasions by the Italians and then the Germans during the war. While his father who joined the Australian army worked hard to enable the family to be reunited.

The couple once reunitedestablished the wonderfully named Acropolis cafe in Gunnedah where George was born and raised.

“That cafe was the meeting place in town – it had a fabulous atmosphere thanks to my parents and Dad brought to town the first espresso machine and chicken rotisserie,” Mr Souris said.

And it was through his father that Mr Souris had hisintroduction to politics as he was a member of the then Country Party.

Mr Souris left Gunnedah for boarding school in Armidale and then onto the nearby university where he suggests his interest in perusing a long academic career was prompted mainly by his love of rugby –a passion that he still holds strongly.

In 1976 armed with an accountancy and economics degreeMr Souris moved to Singleton thus beginning is long association and love of the Hunter Valley.

After seven years in local government Mr Souris was elected to state parliament in 1988 rising to leader be ofThe National party in 1993.

He retired from parliament in 2015 having held 13 different ministries in three different coalition governments Greiner, Fahey and O’Farrell.

Mr Souris listed as his main achievements in government the introduction of the Kings Cross lock-out laws,the transfer of the southern NSW irrigation schemes to growers control, re-introduction of Soil Conservation and the creation of Destination NSW.

Today he is still busyworking in an honorary position with the Australian Rugby Foundation, Library Council of NSW, Australian Film Institute and Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Alliance.

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