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Lord Mayor of Perth
Basil Zempilas
Basil Zempilas 2020.jpg
Zempilas in 2020
56th Lord Mayor of Perth
Assumed office
19 October 2020
Deputy Liam Gobbert
Di Bain (2021–22)
Sandy Anghie (2020–21)
Preceded by Lisa Scaffidi
Personal details
Basil Anthony Zempilas

(1971-07-30) 30 July 1971 (age 52)
Perth, Western Australia
Amy Zempilas
(m. 2009)
Children 3
Education Hale School
Alma mater Murdoch University (BA)

Basil Anthony Zempilas (Greek: Βασίλειος Αντώνης Ζεμπίλας; born 30 July 1971) is an Australian television and radio presenter, sports commentator and politician based in Perth, Western Australia. Zempilas presented sport until 2022 on Seven News Perth, Monday to Thursday and from January 2014 until 11 December 2020 co-hosted Perth radio station 6PR's breakfast program with Steve Mills. He is also a member of the Seven Network's AFL football commentary team. Zempilas has commentated on the Olympics and several other major sporting events, was formerly with radio station 92.9 in Perth and has previously been a co-host of Weekend Sunrise. In 2020, Zempilas was elected Lord Mayor of Perth.

Early life

Zempilas is of Greek descent – his mother Jessie was born on the island of Kastellorizo and his father Anthony's family also originates from the island. He attended Floreat Park Primary School and Hale School in Perth; he attended Hale along with Liberal Party politician and lawyer Christian Porter. Zempilas graduated from Perth's Murdoch University in 1992 with a degree in Media Studies and Mass Communications.

Zempilas played for the West Perth Football Club playing as a ruckman and forward, but retired due to injury. Zempilas played 24 games in the West Australian Football League between 1990 and 1994, kicking 25 goals including kicking 5 in a semi final in 1993.

Media career

Zempilas began his career at the Seven Network in February 1994 as a cadet sports reporter. He was awarded "Best News Story" at the annual Western Australia Football Commission media awards for his coverage of the Melbourne Football Club being thrown out of a West Coast Eagles closed training session. In 1996, he was named the "Best Television Personality" at the same awards.

In 1996 Zempilas was promoted to weekend sports anchor on Seven News, a position he held until the end of 2001, when Seven lost the rights to broadcast AFL. In 1997 he commenced hosting a locally produced football show, Basil's Footy Show. He hosted the 1998 World Aquatics Championships in Perth and co-hosted the local television program Perth at Five with Yvette Mooney.

Zempilas has been involved with the Seven Network's coverage of the Olympic Games since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where he co-hosted Tonight at the Games with Bruce Abernethy for the Western Australia and South Australia markets. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, Zempilas called Steven Bradbury's win in the 1000 m speed skating; Australia's first Winter Olympic Gold medal. Zempilas provided rowing and basketball commentary at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and represented Seven News at the 2005 World Aquatics Championships. In 2006 he began presenting the AFL segment on the Seven Network program Sportsworld with David Schwarz. He called the speed skating event at the 2006 Winter Olympics with Bradbury and also commentated on Rowing, Canoe/Kayak and Basketball at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Zempilas is the senior sport presenter on Seven News Perth, and in the past has provided AFL commentary on radio station 1116 SEN into Melbourne. He was a co-host of the Lisa, Paul & Baz show on Perth's 92.9 but left in November 2013. He joined Steve Mills to host the 6PR breakfast radio show in January 2014.

Since 2012, Zempilas has been part of the Seven Network's expanded AFL broadcast team. Between 2012 and 2016, he mainly called Saturday afternoon matches and occasionally some Friday night (if the match in this timeslot is played in Perth) and Sunday afternoon matches; in 2017, he called Saturday night matches and continued to call Thursday and Friday night matches played in Perth. In 2018, due to his Weekend Sunrise commitments, his football duties were reduced to calling only Friday and Saturday night matches played in Sydney, and some matches in Perth.

He was also a commentator for Seven's Australian Open tennis coverage and is the host of the annual Channel Seven Perth Telethon.

In March 2018, Zempilas was appointed co-host of Weekend Sunrise replacing Andrew O'Keefe after previously filling in as host of the show. In September 2019, Zempilas stepped down as regular host of Weekend Sunrise, citing a desire to spend more time with his family, however he still appears on the show intermittently as a summer and fill-in presenter whenever required. In October 2019, it was announced that Matt Doran would replace Zempilas on the show from October 12.

In October 2020, it was announced Zempilas and 6PR would part ways at the end of his contract in November, due to 6PR being owned by Nine Entertainment Co.

In December 2020, Zempilas finished up at 6PR, but the following week he was announced as host of Triple M Perth's breakfast program with Jenna Clarke and Xavier Ellis.

In February 2022, it was announced that Zempilas would scale back his duties with the Seven Network, stepping down from his role as sports presenter on Seven News Perth.

Political career

In January 2020, Zempilas announced that he was running to be the Lord Mayor of the City of Perth. Zempilas said if successful in the election, he would step down from his role on 6PR, but continue working with Seven News. He has been criticised for using his media presence to promote himself as a candidate, and for his support by The West Australian, who is his employer. The Western Australian Electoral Commission warned Zempilas that his columns in The West Australian which he uses to promote himself for lord mayor must be authorised.

On 17 October 2020, Zempilas won the election, defeating six other candidates. Zempilas received 1,855 votes, or 29.44% of the vote with 41% turnout (thus polling 12.07% of eligible voters). Zempilas defeated his nearest rival, former Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Di Bain, by 284 votes.

On 19 October 2020, Zempilas was sworn in as Lord Mayor of Perth, stating, "It is a significant honour to be sworn-in as the 18th Lord Mayor of this great city. It is also a great responsibility and immensely humbling. It is with genuine anticipation I pledge to lead a collaborative, consultative approach to high quality government."

In December 2021, Zempilas indicated he will run for Perth mayor again in the next election, stating, "My intention right now is to run again in 2023... So three years – I feel a little short-changed, having won an election, typically that means four years... My intention is absolutely to run again. I love the role and I'd like to see a lot of the things that we've got started, I'd like to see them finished off."

In 2021, Zempilas was "mentioned as a potential Liberal party option for a Campbell Newman-like tilt at the next [Western Australia] state election in four years."

Prior to the 2022 City of Perth Skyworks event Zempilas had suggested that Skyworks may be rested or retired in future, citing the sustainability of the event, environmental concerns, and the challenges of staging such a large scale event amid COVID-19 restrictions as reasons to discontinue the show. The controversy surrounding the celebration of Australia Day, as well as waning public interest in both the holiday and the event were also cited as factors to reconsider staging Skyworks.

In March 2022 it was confirmed that future events would be scaled back, with Zempilas stating that "it would be irresponsible to continue with the style of event that we had in the past when we know that it is possible to do it in a more cost effective and environmentally-friendly way".

In April 2022, City of Perth councillors decided to end Skyworks after 37 years.

In October 2023, Zempilas was re-elected as Lord Mayor.

Personal life

In March 2004, a portrait of Zempilas by Perth artist Melinda Mackay was entered in the Archibald Prize, and in the same year he featured in Cleo's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors.

On 6 September 2009, Zempilas married his longtime girlfriend Amy Graham on the island of Kastellorizo, Greece. They have two daughters and a son.

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