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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3369


Mr GRAY (BrandSpecial Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity) (10:39): Today we pay tribute to Peter 'Mangkurla' Ross. Peter was born on 26 February 1927 in Bebington, near Liverpool in the United Kingdom. He died on 27 August 2011. Leaving behind his loved ones when he migrated to Australia just before the Second World War, Peter always had a strong sense of gratitude for and pride in being sent to Australia. He made his name over a 12-year stint, working on the Emanuel family property at Christmas Creek. It was his skilled work on the station's windmills for which Peter became highly regarded. This period will also see Peter forever connected with the Wangkatjungka Walmatjari people who came from south of the Fitzroy River. It was also here that he met his wife, Casey. Peter learned from the Aboriginal stockmen, who taught him how to work on the cattle stations of the Kimberley. He developed a deep respect and understanding for Aboriginal law and culture. He was welcomed into the law and initiated at a ceremony at Christmas Creek. Peter often single-handedly took up the cause of working men and women of the Emanuel family stations. He would push the manager and owners for better conditions for those who were working very hard for not much, or, in the case of Aboriginal people, for next to nothing at all.

Peter's passion for the working people was exemplified by his activism for the Australian Labor Party. Peter founded the Fitzroy Crossing ALP branch and was also an avid Indigenous rights campaigner and an advocate for the rights of working men and women of the Kimberley. Peter Ross also served with distinction as the Fitzroy Crossing representative on the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley Council from 1985 to 1988, and then from 1988 to 1999 he served the local community of Fitzroy Valley as a long-term local justice of the peace. Peter embodied much of what we as a country revere in our bush communities. He had a unique resilience, treated all warmly and was intensely proud of his family and loyal to his friends. He leaves behind a personal family legacy of courage, competence, good humour and leadership and a fundamental belief in the importance of fairness, happiness and hard work.