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Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Page: 113

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (21:32): My purpose in speaking tonight is to recognise the winners and the high achievers in the Townsville Australia Day awards. I would like to quickly go through them and tell you who won what and then go back and speak to a couple.

Citizen of the Year was one of the most well deserved recipients in the history of the awards, Garth Harrigan. Community Event of the Year was the fantastic 60th Anniversary of National Service. The Cultural Award was awarded to Connie Hoedt, a ceramic artist. Young Citizen of the Year was Emily Michelle Moore. The Junior Sports Award was to Shelby Green, an 11-year-old BMX rider. The Senior Sports Award went to Penny Palfrey. Sports Administrator Award was to Bill Whitburn, who shared it with Chris Schell, narrowly nudging out Jayne Arlett, who is the managing partner in Townsville Podiatry, and who also saved Townsville Fire, an Australian Women's National Basketball League team, from extinction. That just shows you how good these sports administrators are. The Spirit of Townsville awards went to Warren Hegarty, Gwenda Richardson and Neighbour to Neighbour Townsville.

Australia Day honours in North Queensland also went to Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde, who received a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to heritage preservation in Queensland. Anyone who has crossed swords with Dorothy when it comes to the historical village in Townsville will know what they have come up against.

Dr Jon Stephenson, who died a year ago, was awarded a Member in the awards. During the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1958 he became the first Australian to reach the South Pole. Dr Donat Gallagher was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to the arts and education and to the community of Townsville. Finally, Norma Connolly was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the sport of basketball through administration and coaching roles on some 382 occasions. That is what you have to do in Townsville to get nominated for an award.

Citizen of the Year was Garth Harrigan, who serves as chairman of the Townsville and Thuringowa Transport Solutions, or NQ Community Transport. He has been a volunteer since retiring three times in the past 34 years. That we had a nominee in Professor Ajay Rane, who has done women's surgery on a volunteer basis in Tibet and Africa, speaks volumes for what Garth is all about. He is about the community and making it a richer place.

The 60th Anniversary of National Service was a truly great community event, driven locally by local people. Warren Hegarty, who won a Spirit of Townsville Award, is the chairman of the Townsville Nashos. My dad was in the second intake in 1952, when it was only three months. He is still very proud of being a Nasho. Most of the guys there were Vietnam veterans and guys who had served real time and had real experience. It was a great afternoon and a great week. They had a lot to do with it being a truly wonderful community event.

Young Citizen of the Year was Emily Michelle Moore. Not only did she attend the Rotary Youth Enrichment Program and also the International Youth Forum in Missouri, USA, but she also organised, led and contributed in many fundraising events, including those for the Cancer Council, the Leukaemia Foundation and the Abused Child Trust. She was also school captain of Kirwan State High School and a fag paper away from getting an OP1. She is a tremendous girl and she will be someone to watch in future years.

Shelby Green is 11 years old and captain of Australia's BMX squad that went to New Zealand. She was unbeaten in all her rides. She won in Australia but unfortunately lost in New Zealand, but she was captain from Townsville in the sport of BMX.

Penny Palfrey was awarded a Senior Sports Award. Penny holds the world record for the longest ever open water swim, between Little and Grand Cayman islands in June 2011. She also broke the record for swimming the Molokai channel, Hawaii. She has been nominated for the title of World Open Water Swimmer of the year for the fourth year in a row. She also swam between Magnetic Island and Townsville without a cage some 20 times.

Bill Whitburn has worked in Aussie Rules for many years. He is an ADF veteran and a tremendous bloke. Next is Chris Schell, who is involved in netball.

I would like to specifically mention Gwenda Richardson, a tremendous lady who was told by her doctor to get out and walk more. So she went out with her three-legged dog and started picking up rubbish. In a Forrest Gump style of thing she just never stopped. She kept on picking up rubbish and did a wonderful job for Townsville. (Time expired)