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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1763


Mr SNOWDON (Lingiari) (12:26): This motion gives an opportunity to talk about a range of things, quite clearly. Whilst I agree broadly with the sentiments of those who have spoken previously, I do have some major issues about the current governance in the Northern Territory which I think detracts substantially from our attractiveness as a place for investment by the wider community. The Northern Territory government is basically dysfunctional.

But I do not want to talk about that any more today. I would like to talk about an individual who has been an advocate of developing Northern Australia now for many years. Sadly, this individual passed away over the weekend. He was a very good friend of mine—Kwementyaye 'Tracker' Tilmouth—who I worked with at the Central Land Council many years ago.

Tracker was an extraordinary man, a member of the stolen generation who once said, 'They made a mistake when they took us away; they educated us,' meaning that he became aware of a whole range of things that he could possibly do about the plight of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Northern Territory, but most particularly about himself. He went away subsequently to get a degree in agricultural management at university in South Australia. He came back to the Northern Territory and worked as the director of the Central Land Council, and he was instrumental in changing the way people thought about using Aboriginal land for economic development.

He was a key to the development of Centrefarm, a quite innovative proposal which was developed around the idea of how to use horticulture on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory and most particularly in Central Australia. And very successful they have been. He showed how you are able to develop Aboriginal land. He showed how you could use the resources within the land—that is, water—to develop horticultural and agricultural services in the bush. They are doing quite well at the moment, but they could do significantly better.

But it was not only in horticulture; he had great innovative ideas around the pastoral industry, the engagement with the pastoral industry more broadly and the use of Aboriginal land.

But it is not only in horticulture; he had great innovative ideas around the pastoral industry and the engagement with the pastoral industry more broadly and the use of Aboriginal land. He has great vision about the role of the pastoral industry and the capacity of Aboriginal landowners to use the land resources they have for the pastoral industry and for their own community's economic benefit. He was—though sadly no longer—at the forefront of forging new relationships between the pastoral industry and Aboriginal landowners. He was also a great believer in the mining industry and, in working as a consultant subsequent to his employment at the Central Land Council, played a significant role in talking to and with the mining industry about developing mines on Aboriginal land again.

He will be missed greatly by all those who knew him. I think it will be some time before we see his like again, in terms of someone who had a vision around what the North could look like by engaging with Aboriginal traditional owners as key instruments and drivers of economic development. Sadly, that is not the case in the broader community where, broadly speaking, Aboriginal people are taken for granted and are seen as the subjects of investment rather than being owners of investment or partners of investment and people who can drive change. It is very important to contemplate what that all means—and he was someone who believed in it; knew how to do it; articulated on behalf of traditional owners their best interests at their direction; and, at the same time, was able to sit around a board table and talk about international economics and the books of major companies. He could talk about all of these things. He was a man for all seasons, in many ways. He could sit down in the dirt and talk to traditional owners in language about a range of things and, at the same time, he could sit a mining company's directors table and talk in their language about mining, pastoral issue, horticulture, agriculture or, indeed, fishing.

He will be sadly missed. He was a close personal friend of mine. To his wonderful wife, Kathy, and their children Cathryn, Shaneen and Amanda: God bless you.

Debate adjourned.