Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010
Parliamentary Record 15
Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 21 October 2010 food curry, stew, rice, fruit salad, and so on - and wheeled this food amongst the people. It must have been a pretty amazing sight. In 2000, Mr Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth. Mr Williams made an enormous contribution to the Territory community as a leader, musician, and tour guide. One of the most important roles Mr Williams played was as a mediator between various sections of Territory society. I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Mr Williams on a number of occasions as minister and, then Chief Minister in the Territory government. My fondest memories are several meetings at Hermannsburg just outside the tea rooms on the verandah, sitting around a table with a cup of tea, Mr Williams in his hat, and a few old fellows just talking about Hermannsburg and Central Australia. I remember from my conversations with Mr Williams that he was a man of great dignity, of real stature, and a man who had a real presence about him. You knew you were in the presence of someone pretty special. In discussions, we all knew there were significant problems; however, he was always very cheerful and looking to solve problems rather than complain about the state of things. He was full of ideas for a future for his community and his people he looked to the future. That is my memory of Mr Williams; a man of great dignity, of great presence, and a real Territory leader. He achieved this through sport, music, tourism, and during his 30 years as Chief Executive Officer of the Hermannsburg community. That is an extraordinary commitment to his community - to be the CEO for 30 years. He was a strong voice for Hermannsburg, or Ntaria, for many years, advocating for economic development, education, and opportunities for young people. In addition to his role as CEO, he chaired or was part of many councils and organisations. When I spoke at the funeral a few weeks ago, I was astounded at the number - I will read through a few. I do not know if this is an exhaustive list: the Aboriginal Benefits Fund, 1983; ATSIC - an original board member; the Central Land Council for 20 years; the Ngurratjuta Deputy Chairman in 1986, and Chairman from 1987; a role in reconciliation in Central Australia; the Central Australian Football League; the National Aboriginal Congress visiting Canada and America; WAHAC, board member and chairperson; Ntaria Supermarket director; Hermannsburg Historical Society Chairman; a big hand in the Western Arrernte outstation movement in the early 1970s as well as Chief Executive for the Hermannsburg community for 30 years. When we talk about someone being a leader, someone who is a great Territorian, someone who made a huge contribution to Central Australia and the Northern Territory, we see that in all the organisations he served on over so many years. To become chair of many of these organisations you have to be elected, and to sit on a number of the organisations you have to be elected. That demonstrates the regard in which he was held by the community, for over 30 years, as he served in so many different and distinguished roles. Mr Williams achievements saw him meet Nelson Mandela whilst part of ATSIC; the Pope when he visited Alice Springs in 1986; and the Queen on the Dukes visit in the 1950s, where he was invited to dine with them. I wish I had known that when I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr Williams, because dining with the Queen in the 1950s must have been a great story. Maybe there are people here who might know more of that meeting, but for an Arrernte man to be sitting with the Queen of the Commonwealth and Empire, as it was back then, must have been an extraordinary evening. He was also invited to meet Prince Charles in the early 1990s, and received a Bicentennial Medal in 1988. Mr Williams memory was honoured at a state funeral at the historic Lutheran Church in Hermannsburg on 30 September where, as you would recall, Madam Speaker, we were joined by hundreds of people. As well as mourning Mr Williams passing, it was also a memorial service which celebrated his life and achievements. I was pleased to speak with many people on that day and was intrigued to see so many people wearing really bright green ties and green skirts - a vivid, bright, lime green. I asked a number of people why everyone was wearing this really bright green beautiful colour? I was advised it was part of the totem of the Dreaming of the Caterpillar in the region. It was a pretty spectacular sight. I also have a memory I will take away with me from my time at the state funeral: the glory of the choir in the church that day. I have not heard the Hermannsburg choral tradition before. It was outstanding and something I will always remember. Mr Williams will be remembered as a man of strong convictions and passion, whether performing on stage, on the football field, or standing up for reconciliation. His legacy lives on through his children and grandchildren. I acknowledge in the gallery today his daughter, Serena, his granddaughter, Genise, and other family members and friends. Madam Speaker, I am sure honourable members will join me in offering our condolences to Mr Williams family, the community of 6490
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