Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007

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Parliamentary Record 12


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




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 Wednesday 14 February 2007 3895 wiser Christians as he sorted through the issues of faith. If I could just digress from Steves eulogy: Phil had very strong Christian beliefs and he lived his faith. That is very important. Returning to Steves eulogy: As a kid, his mother made him take biscuits every Christmas to an old lady who lived in the town. Perhaps that started his journey of caring for others. By the time he was 20, he had worked out that if faith meant anything, it meant caring for the poor, oppressed, the lonely, the downhearted, widows and orphans. He was seriously thinking about taking a vow of celibacy, I guess to commit himself totally to the care of others but he met Amanda with whom he fell totally in love. He thought it wise to ask older and wiser people if they agreed with his decision to marry Amanda. They did, so he did and thus began 22 years of happy marriage and family life for Phil. But his spiritual journey continued. At 27, he was in a secure job in Portland as the Chief Environmental Health Officer, married with two children and a mortgage, yet he had a strong sense that there was more to life than this. He applied for a job within the NT government to work in Arnhem Land. He heard nothing for months. During that time, some old friends from Hawthorne West Baptist Church rang to say that the position of manager of a boarding house the church ran for low income earners was vacant. They asked if Phil would apply. With a strong sense of Gods calling, Phil and Amanda as a team sold their house and took up the position. Together they ran the place caring for drunks, those on drugs, suicidal people and those who were lost and lonely. Phil always believed that God had given him the desire of his heart - a beautiful woman, and Carrical Boarding House with its magnificent architecture. Phil appreciated beautiful things. The idea of community was central to Phils faith. After the boarding house and now with four kids, Phil and Amanda spent time in Lancefield where some other Christians were living. Phil went back to working as an Environmental Health Officer but constantly asking God: Where next? He saw an ad for another job in the Northern Territory working at Tennant Creek. He applied and ended up in Nhulunbuy on a two-year contract. Eighteen months into the contract he met Richard Trudgen. They became close friends. While trying to decide his future, Phil was told by Richard: In two years, you will just be starting to do anything useful for Aboriginal people. It takes that long to get to know people and begin to understand the culture. From that point, Phil and Amanda knew what their future would be. They knew what Richard said was true. They could see that it was a bad thing for indigenous communities to have white people come and go and the people they work with keep changing. They stayed here in the north. With his commitment to the community and his desire to see things happen, Phil started a little group called AMRRIC, Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities. Phil cared deeply for people. He also liked beautiful things: art, architecture and women. As a town, Nhulunbuy did not feed this side of his character. After five years he had to leave to return to the city. The family moved to Darwin. This meant having a mortgage again. He hated that; he felt restricted by it and he had to have a good job to pay the mortgage. All he really wanted to do was visit people and encourage them. Steve said that he was chatting with Phil a few months back and Phil expressed his dissatisfaction with the system and his place in it. To Steve, Phil had a truly prophetic spirit. He was critical of the system and could be very challenging in his critique. I was always very grateful for Phils ideas and opinions as well as his support during my campaign to be elected to this House and his continued support over the years. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Phil, for your support. Thank you for your challenging ideas and opinions. Phil was never bitter in his criticism, just enquiring, desiring something better, something more meaningful, relevant and just. He was committed to exploring ways in which he could make better things happen. Phil left us on 17 December 2006. Phil was a wonderful caring man who gave of his time, his skills and his heart. He will be greatly missed, not only by myself but everyone whose lives he touched in so many ways. I wish to pass on my sincere condolences to Amanda, Grace,