Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1319 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Billy Craigie was also a man who lived by his principles. He respected humanity and the protection of the rights of all. This often led him to be a critic of various governments. He was strong and uncompromising in his approach, always focusing on the positive, with ideas for change, rather than limiting himself to reactionary sentiment, and this is perhaps why he was considered a champion for and by the Aboriginal people. He is survived by his wife Isobel Coe, children and a grandchild.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer): Mr Speaker, it is with much sadness that I learnt of the recent death of Mr Bill Craigie. I rise here to pay tribute to his contributions as an Aboriginal and as an Australian. It is important to realise that his contributions were to the broader Australian community as well as to the broad Aboriginal community, both here in the ACT and in New South Wales.

As Ms Tucker said, he was born in the New South Wales town of Moree. He spent a great deal of his time, though, in the Canberra region and became an active member of the Aboriginal community. He devoted a great deal of his life to gaining recognition for Aboriginal people and to fighting for Aboriginal rights. He was determined that Aboriginals would know the true history of their country. He spoke at functions across Australia - I am sure many of us heard him speak - in an attempt to correct the myth that Aboriginal people somehow relinquished their land.

Mr Craigie was active in Aboriginal community organisations across Australia. As Ms Tucker said, he was probably best remembered for his struggle to establish the Aboriginal tent embassy here in Canberra in 1972. The esteem in which Mr Craigie was held, Mr Speaker, was noted in the memorial services held for him right across Canberra and in New South Wales, at Moree, Redfern, Cowra - the list goes on - over the last two weeks.

Mr Speaker, on a very serious note for a moment, the fact that Mr Craigie died at, I think, 47 of a heart attack does indicate to me, and I am sure to other members of the Assembly, just how much further we have to go in this country with Aboriginal health issues, something that Mr Craigie was very personally involved in.

Mr Speaker, I am sure that members will join with me in expressing our deep sympathy to Bill Craigie's family and friends and in acknowledging the significant contribution he made to Canberra and to the Australian communities.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, I join with other members in expressing condolence at the death of Billy Craigie. As has been indicated by Ms Tucker and the Chief Minister, Mr Craigie is an Australian hero. I think he was one of those individuals who, through a depth of commitment to his people and a cause, actually stretched himself to the limit.

He was involved in 1972, at the age of 19, along with five of his colleagues, in the establishment of the tent embassy at Parliament House. There are many of us who would remember those days and the environment and the atmosphere in which the tent embassy was created at that time. It was not very long ago. It does give us real cause to reflect that, in 1972, a 19-year-old Aboriginal man from Moree came to Canberra to establish, along with his colleagues, the tent embassy. That was at a time when Billy Craigie,

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .