Anthony Bonnici (1949-2013) AM was a Barrister in Melbourne, Australia
Tony arrived in Australia from Egypt in March 1949. He attended the Austral Coaching College, but left school and worked as a tradesman’s assistant at the Melbourne dockyard, as a labourer in factories, and as a truck driver. He had always wanted to attend University and so in 1955 he hitch hiked to Perth to enrol at the University of Western Australia (UWA). This was the only free university in Australia at the time, having been founded and endowed by the philanthropist Sir Winthrop Hackett on the condition that no fees were to be charged. In order to matriculate he attended Leederville Technical School. This school ran classes for young adults at flexible times to allow students to do part-time work. In 1956 he enrolled in the Arts Faculty at UWA, majoring in History and Philosophy with a sub-major in Languages (Attic Greek and Italian). After two years he returned to Melbourne and completed his degree at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1960.
In 1960 he joined the Education Department as a teacher where he undertook teacher training. Also in 1960, he received his commission as a Pilot Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. However, he decided to study law and in 1961 he enrolled at the University of Melbourne Law School. Shortly thereafter he managed to get a job as a research assistant with the Board of Studies in Criminology at Melbourne University. He graduated in Law in 1966 and was admitted to practise law. He practised at the Bar for forty-six years.
Involvement in Maltese Community
His first involvement with the Maltese community was when he joined the Phoenician Association in 1967, an association whose primary aim was to enable Maltese to socialise together. When he joined, the president was Hugh Azzopardi and he later succeeded Hugh as President. It was at this time that Tony started attending meetings of the Maltese Community Council of Victoria (MCCV). In 1968 he was elected President, succeeding Paul Paris who had been President for some twenty years. He remained as President until 1974. He was the MCCV’s representative on the newly formed Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) and he became Chairman in 1988, a position which he held for two years. During this time he was also Senior Deputy Chairman of the Federation of the Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia. In 1981 he was appointed by the Fraser Government to the Board of the Special Broadcasting Service and he remained a member of the Board until 1987.
Tony was appointed by the Hawke Government to the Advisory Committee on Immigration in 1987. One of his tasks was to visit Canada and the United States to examine and report back to the Committee on the immigration legislation and programs for each country. He also had a number of publications relating to legal and migrant issues.
Awards and recognitions
In 1985 he was made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for service to the Maltese community. He also received the Hellenic Award for successfully spearheading the resistance of ethnic communities to the amalgamation of the Special Broadcasting Service with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (1986).
Tony died in March 2013 and he is succeeded by his four children: Christopher, Anthea, Martin and Julian.
- M.N. Cauchi, Maltese Achievers in Australia, MCCV, 2006