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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3142

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (16:51): As the first female federal member for Solomon—

Mr Randall: Hear, hear!

Mrs GRIGGS: thank you—it gives me great pleasure when I get the opportunity to recognise the remarkable achievements of Northern Territory women in my electorate. Last week many women across the Territory came together to celebrate International Women's Day. Each year, on the eve of this annual event, outstanding NT women are recognised in the Tribute to Northern Territory Women, which is an award that recognises and celebrates the achievements of women who have made, or are making, a significant contribution to the Territory community. This year Jane Tye, Stephanie Thompson Nganpmirra and Vicki Shultz were honoured and I take the opportunity to congratulate each recipient on their outstanding commitment and dedication to the wider Territory community. These women are indeed worthy of this recognition and each has contributed a great deal to the Northern Territory in her own right.

Having said this, though, I am disappointed to have heard that former Palmerston Mayor and fellow Territorian Annette Burke was overlooked as a recipient. Up until now the smallest number of women recognised on record since the awards were established in 2003 was actually four. This belies the claim in a letter that Mrs Burke's nominee received explaining that she was not successful because 'the response to the Tribute this year had been excellent and the panel's task in recommending the women was made difficult by the quality of nominations received'.

Annette Burke has been an esteemed leader of the Top End community for more than 14 years. In 1998, Annette was elected Mayor of Palmerston and went on to win three consecutive elections for mayor, gaining 75 per cent of the vote. We here know how hard that is. Clearly, she was doing something right. She firmly believed that the council was about more than just the 3Rs of rates, roads and rubbish. She believed the council also needed to incorporate relationships—with the community, other councils, investors and businesses. As mayor, Annette led the City of Palmerston during a period of rapid development and population increase. She engaged the council to participate in numerous national community programs, resulting in the City of Palmerston winning several prestigious awards. By 2005, the City of Palmerston was rated the second most liveable community in Australia and eighth out of the top 10 most sustainable communities in the annual national State of the Regions report.

Annette was also personally selected by a former Prime Minister, John Howard, to be a member of his 15-people task force to develop drug and alcohol awareness programs throughout Australia and was requested to be a member of a special committee to develop strategies to encourage more female participation in all levels of government. She established and supervised various council subcommittees and lobbied the government to enhance opportunities for investment and further economic and social growth for Palmerston. Founding committees was one of her many specialties, and Annette boasts the Adopt A Park program, the first Crime Prevention Northern Territory Committee, the Seniors' Advisory Committee and the Palmerston Futures program to increase retention rates for students, just to name a few, as her achievements.

I live in Palmerston and I acknowledge the hard work that Annette put into our community. In fact, Annette is one of the reasons why I entered politics because she encouraged me to stand for local government. Above all, Annette is a mentor, a leader and an effective communicator and was admired by all of her fellow councillors, staff and the wider community during her time on the Palmerston council. She was and still is a big supporter and mentor of mine and I am grateful to her for her guidance and friendship. So this is why I was disappointed that Annette was overlooked for a 2012 Tribute to Northern Territory Women award. Surely Annette's achievements speak for themselves. I firmly believe Annette greatly enhanced and improved the lives of Palmerston residents during her nine years as mayor and four years as an alderman. Also, while Annette was mayor she managed to do a fantastic job as a mother, raising two boys while her husband was the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. Surely it is not because of her political persuasion that she was not given the acknowledgment of the 2012 Tribute to Northern Territory Women award, so I take it upon myself to make this tribute to Annette. Well done, Annette. You are my hero and here is my tribute to you. (Time expired)