Greek Independence and its Significance to the Development of International Law


Sir John Demetrius Morris Oration

Start Date

16th Mar 2018 6:00pm

End Date

16th Mar 2018 7:30pm


Centenary Lecture Theatre, Grosvenor Crescent, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information or 6222 9474

The Tasmanian Chapter of the Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association, in conjunction with the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania and as part of the Estia Greek Festival of Hobart is delighted to host the

Sir John Demetrius Morris Oration
"Greek Independence and its Significance to the Development  of International  Law"

to be delivered by

The Hon Chief Justice Chris Kourakis

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South  Australia

Hellenic contribution to Tasmania’s judicial and educational foundations will be highlighted in Hobart next month (March) with an Oration honouring Tasmanian Sir John Demetrius Morris KCMG, the first Chief Justice in Australia of Hellenic origin.

The Tasmanian Chapter of Hellenic Australian Lawyers, in conjunction with the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania, will hold this event on Friday, 16 March 2018 as part of the annual Estia Greek festival of Hobart.

Chair of the Tasmanian Chapter of HAL, Mr Con Tsamassiros, said the dedication of the Oration to Sir John was testament to his contribution to Tasmania, where the former Chief Justice’s work stretched far outside administration of justice. “He took on vice regal duties as Administrator from time to time, was instrumental in the establishment of educational management facilities, as well as being Chancellor of the University of Tasmania,” said Mr Tsamassiros. The recorded Hellenic origins of Sir John stretch back to his grandfather, Christoforos Moros, born on the island of Poros in 1835 in a sea-faring family, and who braved the waves to land in Melbourne in the 1860s seeking a fortune on the Victorian goldfields. Christoforos Moros succeeded in business, ironically not as a miner, but in boat hiring on the Yarra. 

He anglicised his name to Christopher Morris, and died a relatively wealthy man.  He had a number of sons, one of whom, Demetrius, referred to elsewhere as James Demetrius, became a senior public servant. Sir John was the son of James Demetrius. Sir John was born in Melbourne in 1902 and studied at the University of Melbourne (BA 1924; LLB 1924; MA 1926).  He was admitted to the Victorian bar in 1927, but moved to Tasmania, where he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1930.  
Sir John was appointed to the bench as Acting Chief Justice in July 1939.  He was formally appointed as Chief Justice in April 1940, at 37.  He was knighted in 1943 and elevated to KCMG (Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George) in 1952.  He served as Chief Justice until 3 July 1956, when he died at his desk, aged only 53. 

His legacy endures: his son, John Paul Morris AM served as Tasmania’s Chief Magistrate from 1987 to 1994, while his grandson, David Morris, is a partner in the Hobart law firm Simmons Wolfhagen, and a third generation lawyer. Sir John’s son, John Paul, has recounted events from his father’s life in an oral history that depicts the varied and busy life of the state’s most senior judicial officer. “After the war in particular,” John recalls, “he (Sir John) would sit in Hobart one day, travel to Launceston, sit the next day there, and then come back to Hobart.” Mr Morris also recounts the work of his mother in establishing their home at Winmarleigh at Taroona, which remains a stately home in Hobart. There, he recalls, his parents held receptions for visiting national and international dignitaries.

Sir John's contribution to the Tasmanian community was not confined to his work as Chief Justice. He took on vice regal duties as Administrator from time to time. He was instrumental in the establishment of the State Library Board, and of the Adult Education Board, which replaced the Workers' Educational Association.  He was the Chancellor of the University of Tasmania from 1944 until his death.

The inaugural HAL Sir John Demetrius Morris Oration on 16 March represents an opportunity for the legal fraternity, philhellenes and those of Hellenic origin to recognise and celebrate the inestimable contributions of Sir John, his family, and the many other Australians of Greek origin to the progress and prosperity of Tasmania.

Pre-oration drinks from 5.30pm. Oration commencing at 6.00pm, followed by drinks & canapes until 7.45pm.

To assist with catering please indicate your attendance by 12 March 2018. For more information contact Con Tsamassiros at
or call (03) 6222  9474.