Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 The attacks by the former Treasurer and the member for Katherine were uncalled for and disrespectful. That is all I really want to say about that, but hats off to all the staff - Speaker, Clerk - it has been a wonderful time. Ms CARTER (Port Darwin): Mr Deputy Speaker, it is with a certain sadness that I pay tribute tonight to Leigh Hillman who has recently left the Territory. Originally a Queenslander, Leigh came to the Territory in 1986 for a fortnights holiday in Alice Springs but, like so many others, she found the Territory lifestyle too attractive to leave Central Australia - and I am sure we all understand that - and only returned to Queensland regularly to visit her family in Brisbane. Her previous experience working with disadvantaged families and street kids in Brisbane, and with the indigenous community of Cherbourg in south-west Queensland, was put to good use in the Territory. As a community welfare worker with Territory Health Services for over 13 years, Leigh worked as a child protection practitioner across the urban and remote communities of Central Australia, the Barkly. East Amhem districts and, of course, in Darwin. Leighs empathy and pragmatism in dealing with the multitude of problems affecting those communities and her clients strongly engendered her sense of social justice, of which she spoke so feelingly in her speech on International Womens Day earlier this year in Darwin. However, Leigh herself rejected being tagged as a do-gooder. She would assist her clients to steer through their difficulties but, when the hard decisions regarding the best interests of children subject to departmental interventions had to be made, Leigh would make them. Without fear or favor is possibly the best way of describing Leighs modus operandi. Even when placed under personal security during a particularly threatening family matters court hearing, Leigh continued to carry out her work with other clients and support her colleagues during this time. All members of this Assembly will recall Leighs commitment to the Balinese community following the Kuta bombing last October. She galvanised Territorians to kick-in supplies and money to assist those Balinese so devastatingly affected by the bombing and its aftermath. I was delighted to be able to assist this effort in a small way. On her return to Darwin, she instigated the Bali grandparents project, a national fundraising campaign coordinated through the Federation of Council on the Ageing across Australia to provide assistance to elderly Balinese caring for their grandchildren whose parents had been killed or seriously injured during the bombing. As members know, Leigh has been a constant advocate for our Territorys seniors over the past 3 years. She was the executive director of the Council on the Ageing. Recently, funding became an issue for the council and, because they could not secure enough funding from the Territory government, the position Leigh held could not be kept. I believe it is a great loss to the Territory that COTA was not funded sufficiently to keep Leigh on. It is true that there was nothing subtle about Leigh Hillman. I have had a long-standing interest in matters concerning seniors, and therefore I have been well aware of Leighs modus operandi for a number of years. I know that Leigh made her comments and did her lobbying without fear or favour. When the CLP was in government, Leigh would provide advice, encourage us, chide us and, at times, take us on directly; and often publicly. She had only one goal: to maximise what COTA could achieve to help Territory seniors. Such action should be applauded by governments. This is how a good lobbyist works. Dealing with lobbyists, utilising lobbyists, should be part of an MLAs, and indeed, a ministers or Chief Ministers patch. We should not shy from interacting with strong lobbyists. We should understand them, use them, because the goals of the lobbyist such as Leigh Hillman, and the MLA, often and should be the same: improving the lot of the people we serve. As Leigh has so often said, politicians, whether in government or opposition, should not be afraid to hear the news they do not want to hear. That is why we have peak bodies such as COTA to speak as the voice of our constituents and to let us all know when we do not have the policies right. On Friday 11 April, I attended a farewell for Leigh at the Darwin Trailer Boat Club. The large group of people gathered there demonstrated the range of people Leigh touched during her time here in Darwin. From the young to the elderly, from either end of the political continuum, from COTA members and colleagues to neighbourhood watch volunteers; all were there. Together, I am sure all us of here tonight wish Leigh all the very best for her future as she heads to Victoria, and for the next exciting chapter in her life. On behalf of Territorians, we say: thank you, Leigh Hillman for doing your job, doing it with a passion and doing it well. Mr WOOD (Nelson): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I would like to say a few things. 4007