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Part of the Division
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary
Warren Snowdon MP - first speech as member for Lingiari
It is my intention today to talk about the electorate of Lingiari.As a result of a redistribution, I am now the member for Lingiari.Lingiari is of 1.34 million square kilometres and encompasses all of the Northern Territory, with the exclusion of Palmerston and Darwin, which together total 330 square kilometres.The electorate is the second largest in Australia by area, but it is the largest geographically, as it is bounded in the east by Borroloola and the Queensland border and in the west by Christmas and Cocos Islands, in the Indian Ocean.It has a wide range of communities, but 40 per cent or thereabouts of the electorate are indigenous Australians.That is the highest proportion of indigenous Australians of any electorate.What I want to talk about in particular is the man Vincent Lingiari.Vincent Lingiari will not be known to many Australians, unfortunately.However, I believe he should be.Under any objective view there is no doubt that he is one of Australia's great leaders since settlement or, as indigenous Australians would argue, invasion by the British in the 18th century.Vincent Lingiari was truly a great man.It explains the life of Vincent Lingiari and the struggle that he went through to achieve the recognition of rights for his people. Perhaps one of the most significant events as a marker in the life of Vincent Lingiari was on 23 August 1966 when he led his Gurindji people and other people off the Wave Hill station owned by the Vesteys, situated 600 kilometres south-west of Katherine in the Northern Territory, to a riverbed nearby.Most Australians, certainly indigenous Australians, would not have known of the event at the time and, if they did, would have paid little notice to it.Yet the fact remains that the ripples from the Wave Hill walk-off and strike were to keep travelling across Australian society, gathering the force of a wave which would eventually reshape the agenda of relationships between indigenous Australians and the wider community. The immediate catalyst of the strike was the refusal of the Vesteys' manager at Wave Hill to meet Vincent Lingiari's request that Aboriginal stockmen be paid $25 a week.But what was apparently an industrial dispute over appalling working and living conditions soon revealed itself to be something strikingly different: it was a demand from the Gurindji people for the return of their traditional lands.Months after the original strike began Vincent Lingiari led his people to establish a settlement at Wattie Creek, known to them as Daguragu, within the Wave Hill lease.When Lord Vestey attempted to get the Gurindji people to leave Wattie Creek and return to work on the station with inducements including money and wages, Vincent Lingiari told him: `You can keep your gold.We know that Vincent Lingiari was an extraordinary man.He was illiterate in the sense that he could not read or write European scripts.English was not his first language-as it is not the first language of a very large number of Australians who live on this continent now.They are not immigrants; they are the traditional owners of this country.English is a foreign language to them.It needs to be understood that even today for very large numbers of people English is not only a foreign language but a language that is very difficult for them to learn, because they do not have the wherewithal in terms of infrastructure to do so. Vincent Lingiari's vocabulary was very limited.He described himself as a Kadijeri man, a man in charge of the secret and chief male ceremony of the Gurindji people.He retold the Dreamtime story of the beginnings of his people at Seal Gorge near Wattie Creek on the Gurindji tribal lands which were incorporated into the Wave Hill Station.The story is recounted in the corroboree dances of his people.These lands were a vital part of the identity of Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji, by reason of their Dreamtime attachment, their traditional ownership of that country and more recent happenings. There was a petition sent to a former Governor-General, Lord Casey.Vincent Lingiari was its first signatory.Many of those are in the electorate of Lingiari.Vincent Lingiari was a very powerful communicator, despite the fact that he had difficulty with English.But he let his peoples' demands be known when he said: Mr SNOWDON -Before being interrupted for question time, I was discussing the role of Vincent Lingiari as the leader of Gurindji people and his role in ensuring that the nation addressed, after a seven-year strike, the needs of his community for land and the way in which they combated the then mighty forces of Lord Vestey to ensure they got access to country.Vincent Lingiari I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever. As he concluded his remarks, the then Prime Minister poured a handful of Daguragu soil through Vincent Lingiari's hands.Vincent Lingiari, having received the crown lease of his ancestral land with the symbolic handover of the land itself, simply replied, `We are mates now.' This is a great story in Australian history.It is one that all Australians should learn in order to understand the privations suffered by the Gurindji people during this struggle, this confrontation, with the might of Lord Vestey.Through a seven-year strike, the Gurindji people finally won not only recognition of the injustice that they had suffered but also ultimately the prize: the establishment of the 300,000 square kilometres. It should be noted that it is not just me or, indeed, the former Governor-General who has acknowledged the heroic deeds of Vincent Lingiari.It is acknowledged by the most notable of Australian commentators on indigenous affairs-perhaps the one for whom I have the greatest respect, someone with whom I worked for a number of years and co-authored a book-Dr H.C. `Nugget' Coombs.Nugget was a truly great Australian, and I have spoken to this House previously about him.As I said, I was fortunate enough to work with him.He described Vincent Lingiari as `a man who, among Aboriginal associates, appears to be recognised more fully than any other I know of as such a leader'. Be that as it may, Vincent Lingiari was a leader of his people in every sense of the word.Vincent Lingiari was doubtless a great man, and it is with great pride that I represent the community of Lingiari-that is, the people of the seat of Lingiari, but particularly those descendants of Vincent Lingiari at Daguragu and Kalkarindji in the Northern Territory.Proudly each year they record a celebration to commemorate the handover and the win, the great victory, that was theirs, which was led by Vincent Lingiari.
Message Stick Online Extra
Member for Lingiari and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern Australian and Indigenous Affairs said today's Bill to amend the Land Rights Act was a short cut to disaster. Member for Lingiari and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern Australia and Indigenous Affairs Warren Snowdon said today any amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act needed extensive negotiation with Aboriginal people. Mr Vincent was the eldest son of the celebrated Aboriginal leader and land rights advocate Vincent Lingiari.
Warren Snowdon MP - media releases
Warren Snowdon is the federal member for Lingiari and Labor's Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Affairs.
Warren Snowdon MP - about Lingiari
Warren is the first member of parliament to represent Lingiari.
Lingiari is the second-largest federal electorate in Australia. It covers 1,347,849 sq km of the Northern Territory and both the Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands ( see the map to the right). The major industries in Lingiari are tourism, cattle, horticulture, fishing, light industry (in Alice Springs), and bauxite, copper, gold and uranium mining. Vincent Lingiari Lingiari was named in honour of Vincent Lingiari OAM (1908-1988), a member of the Gurindji people from the NT's Victoria River District. He was a stockman and a land rights leader who worked for many years to improve conditions for Aboriginal people working on cattle stations. Mr Lingiari was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to Aboriginal people. One of the most significant events in Mr Lingiari's life began on 23 August 1966, when he led his Gurindji people and others off the Northern Territory's Wave Hill station to a riverbed nearby. This strike would eventually reshape the agenda of relationships between indigenous Australians and the wider community. The Wave Hill dispute began after the station's owners refused Mr Lingiari's request that Aboriginal stockmen - who suffered appalling working and living conditions - be paid $25 a week. But it soon became much more, when the Gurindji people demanded the return of their traditional lands. The strike lasted seven years. Over that time, support for Aboriginal rights grew as the struggle intensified. The end result was an enormously important event in our history when, during an emotional ceremony in 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured the local sand into Vincent Lingiari's hands and handed the Wave Hill station back to the Gurindji people. Warren devoted his first speech as the member for Lingiari to this great Australian. Before 2001, Lingiari was part of the division of Northern Territory. Members for the Division of Northern Teritory have included:
Warren is the first member of parliament to represent Lingiari.Lingiari is the second-largest federal electorate in Australia.It covers 1,347,849 sq km of the Northern Territory and both the Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands (see the map to the right).The major industries in Lingiari are tourism, cattle, horticulture, fishing, light industry (in Alice Springs), and bauxite, copper, gold and uranium mining.Vincent LingiariLingiari was named in honour of Vincent Lingiari OAM (1908-1988), a member of the Gurindji people from the NT's Victoria River District.He was a stockman and a land rights leader who worked for many years to improve conditions for Aboriginal people working on cattle stations.Mr Lingiari was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to Aboriginal people.One of the most significant events in Mr Lingiari's life began on 23 August 1966, when he led his Gurindji people and others off the Northern Territory's Wave Hill station to a riverbed nearby.This strike would eventually reshape the agenda of relationships between indigenous Australians and the wider community.The Wave Hill dispute began after the station's owners refused Mr Lingiari's request that Aboriginal stockmen - who suffered appalling working and living conditions - be paid $25 a week.But it soon became much more, when the Gurindji people demanded the return of their traditional lands.The strike lasted seven years.Over that time, support for Aboriginal rights grew as the struggle intensified.The end result was an enormously important event in our history when, during an emotional ceremony in 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured the local sand into Vincent Lingiari's hands and handed the Wave Hill station back to the Gurindji people.Warren devoted his first speech as the member for Lingiari to this great Australian.Before 2001, Lingiari was part of the division of Northern Territory.Members for the Division of Northern Teritory have included: