Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007

Other title

Parliamentary Record 17


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4888 her son-in-law, Con. Only a few months ago, one of her ambitions was achieved when she and Eric completed their tour around Australia and visited Cape York. I close with the words of her friend Cyril Young: Monica always acted as Tail-End Charlie. She is now leader of the pack, taking us to that place of peace and tranquillity. Lived respected, and died regretted. Mr BONSON (Millner): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, tonight I pay tribute to a well-known Territorian and two young Territorians who, no doubt, in years to come, will be well-known Territorians. The first is John (otherwise known as Jack) Stephen Cusack, who was born on 24 June 1935 and passed away on 26 September 2007. Jack Cusack was a well-known Territorian. His family contributed over many years to the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his funeral as I was attending to duties in this House, but I extend my condolences to all of the family, in particular Johnny, Jeff and Dave and the rest of the gang. It gives me pleasure to read a testimonial for Jack Cusack entitled Vale Jack Cusack: Gentleman, Leader, Botanist, Teacher. It was presented by Dick Williams: Gday, everyone. Im Dick Williams and I am a scientist with the CSIRO here in Darwin. On behalf of the past and present staff of the CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre in Darwin - and indeed on behalf of all of the CSIRO staff and the Northern Territory scientific community - I would like to say a few words in memory of our friend Jack Cusack. The first word is Tumrapunya. This was a name given by the Tiwi people to Jack. Jack, of course, was a Warlpiri man, but taken from his Warlpiri home when he was young and brought up on the Tiwi Islands. The Tiwi people adopted him and gave him this name. It is a very special name for me because he gave it to my son Jack when he was born. The second word is Tupataprunala - the name he gave to our daughter, Emma. It means moon goddess as she was born under a full moon. Jack held a special place in our family. He liked young Jack and Emma to call him Amanai Jack - Grandpa Jack. It was always good to have him around home. Probably the most memorable for me was the 1992 Grand Final, when he came over home to watch the game on the TV under the house with my wife, Bronwyn, and me and our mates. We put on the pies and beer; he brought barra and goose and boy, did that make for a good feed. He loved his footy and his beloved Hawks. He and my mate Billy Perrett would sit and discuss the fortunes of the club for hours at a time. Jack was also deeply connected to legendary names in the game, like Long and Rioli. Tumrapunya, Tupataprunala, Amanai. Theres a lot in those names simple, beautiful words expressing simple, beautiful, gentle concepts. Just like the man himself. A true gentleman. I never got to the Tiwis with him, but we visited his Warlpiri country on many occasions in the course of field work. This was always a pleasure, and a real highlight and privilege for me. Not too many scientists get to work with Aboriginal people, let alone with people of the calibre of Jack, and in their own country to boot. Jack was, of course, a loyal and integral member of the science team at CSIRO for 25 years. Jack joined CSIRO in the early 1970s. Prior to that, he worked on the Tiwi Forestry project with Gus Wanganeen. Prior to that, hed been trained as a chippie on Melville Island. He retired from CSIRO in 2000 but kept coming into the lab. His keen eye, extensive knowledge and expert bushmanship helped train several generations of scientists. He was an outstanding botanist. For 10 years he was my eyes and ears out bush. I cannot overstate the profound influence he had on me. He also had a profound influence on the lab he was always happy, singing, whistling and laughing. His laugh was a corker. I am very glad to say that his son John has inherited his fantastic laugh. And we were all in awe, utter awe, of his calligraphic skills he simply had the most beautiful handwriting I have seen. I first met Jack in 1988 - at the time I was a young academic at Monash University. I was in Darwin on holiday with my wife and another mate, and we called into the lab to see Alan Andersen with whom wed all been at uni. I had collected a swag of plants, asked Alan if he had any ID books. Why dont you just go and see Jack? he said. An hour or so later, I went away a happy customer. Little did I realise that three years later, we would be working together for CSIRO. I last saw him a couple of days before he passed away. He was very keen to go over some old stories. Id like to share a few with you today.