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Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Page: 4130

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:19): I rise to echo the words of the Prime Minister in respect of both Jimmy Little and Murray Rose. Both of them were wholly embraced by their fellow Australians—Murray for his triumphs in the pool and Jimmy for the marvellous songs and the tremendous entertainment that he gave us. Murray was not the first sportsman to be widely embraced by Australians, but Jimmy may well have been the first Aboriginal person to be widely embraced by all Australians. Murray, as we know, won four Olympic gold medals, including three at the Melbourne games, which in their own way were a bit of a coming of age for modern Australia.

Jimmy was the first Indigenous recording artist ever to make the top 10, and his famous song Royal Telephone became a No. 1 hit, selling 75,000 copies. In 1964 he was Everybody's magazine's Australian pop star of the year. He was absolutely one of us. He was proudly Aboriginal, but he was proudly Australian. He experienced the discrimination that Australians of Aboriginal background all too often experienced in those days. He said, 'Don't mistake kindness and gentleness'—that is to say his own kindness and gentleness—'for weakness.'

Both Murray's and Jimmy's later lives were characterised by their charitable work. Again, this is a characteristic that we like to think is part of our Australian nature. Murray gave many, many hours of his time to the Rainbow Club, which teaches disabled children how to swim, and in 2006 Jimmy established the Jimmy Little Foundation, which amongst many other things has brought mobile renal dialysis to the Aboriginal communities and townships of the outback. Both of them were gentlemen, both of them were great Australians and both of them have left an enduring legacy.