James was elected as the Member for Monbulk in 2002 at the age of thirty. He was re-elected in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
He is Deputy Premier and Minister for Education. James is passionate about education and takes on his role as Minister with high importance and responsibility.
Following the 2006 election James became Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs under the Bracks Labor Government. He was appointed with the additional responsibility of Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs under the Brumby Labor Government. Between October and December 2010 James was the Minister for Police and Minister for Corrections.
As Minister, James was a passionate advocate for sport, both at a grass roots and elite level. Highlights during this period included the re-development of Melbourne Park and the 20 year extension of the Australian Tennis Open until at least 2036; the construction of AAMI Park; the State Athletics Centre and new home of the VIS at Albert Park, the construction of the new State Basketball Centre in Knox and the funding of an upgrade to the Great Southern Stand. James is proud of the record funding for grass roots sport during the 2006-2010 term, in particularly drought and bushfire recovery projects and in growth sports such as soccer.
As a son of a migrant, (James’ Dad migrated from the tiny Italian island of Salina in 1961) James’ tenure as Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs was personally significant and provided James with the opportunity to support Victoria’s vibrant multicultural society. Highlights included significant capital funding for our cultural precincts such as Little Burke Street for the Chinese community, Lonsdale Street for the Greek community, and Lygon Street for the Italian community; supporting our faith communities, both individually and in multi-faith activities such as the Bushfires Multifaith Service and the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2009; and delivering and co-ordinating State Government support for Victoria’s activities in the lead-up to World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney and the canonisation of Mary MacKillop celebrations in 2010.
It was an honour for James to become the Minister for Police and Minister for Corrections in 2010.
In his first term in Parliament, James was a member of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee.
Before entering Parliament James was a National Industrial Officer for the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association. The “Shoppies” is Australia’s largest union representing retail workers.
Between 1996 and 1999 James was an electorate officer for Jan Wilson, State Member for Dandenong North. Tim Holding had also earlier worked for Jan – she was a great support for young people cutting their teeth in the ALP.
Between 1997 and his election to State Parliament in 2002, James was a councillor for Yarra Ranges Council including a period as Deputy Mayor.
He is married to Meagan and has two daughters, Sophie and Emma and a brand new son, Joshua. They live and have put down their roots in Montrose.