Community Leader Stands for Parliament

By Victor Bivell

A candidate at the recent 2013 Western Australian state election was former chairman of the Macedonian Community of WA, Jim Bivoltsis. Jim was chairman for two years to 2009 and he was also a member of the Liberal Party for 30 years. However, when the Liberal Party parachuted in an outside candidate, Jim resigned and stood for the seat of Churchlands as an independent.

Jim has long been active in WA affairs as a President of the Insurance Institute of WA, an Independent Finance Director of The Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi Foundation and, married with three daughters, as a fund raiser for his local primary school for over 10 years.

At the election his policies were to improve community and health services, safety and security, traffic flow and the environment.

It is now history that the Liberals enjoyed a strong swing in their favour across the whole state, and Jim was not successful. However, he did show that he has the interest and the courage to stand for parliament and he has the organizational ability to run a strong campaign.

Jim has joined a small but growing list of Australians of Macedonian heritage who have stood for parliament in Australia.

Jim was born in northern Greece in the village of Polipotamo, which has a long Macedonian history and is known in Macedonian as Neret. He came to Australia as a small child with his parents, Risto and Fania, and was the first member of his extended family to ever go to university. He graduated in Arts from the University of WA and for many years worked with major financial institutions: National Mutual, AMP, and National Australia Bank.

In a mid life change of direction he then established his own business, OceanWest Financial Services, a successful financial planning service.

But Jim did not forget his roots. In his early 50s he returned to his family's village for the first time and loved it so much he bought a house there and is now a regular visitor. He has made friends with many of the locals, and has extensively renovated the house using local labour and materials.

Many see this as a fine example of how people of Macedonian background can live as Australians but maintain their Macedonian roots and assist with the development of their ancestral villages.

Jim is a conservative and moderate person by nature. On the controversial issue of relations between Greece and Macedonia, he believes the solution is with moderate Greeks and moderate Macedonians. It is the moderates who can encourage understanding and build bridges between the two communities. For his own part, Jim speaks his native Macedonian and is learning Greek, and would like to see more positive interaction between the two communities.

In the meantime he is proud to be refered to as Australian, and is considering whether he will have another go at being elected into parliament.


© Copyright, March 2013