Friday, February 04, 2005

Let me tell you a story about Vincent Lingiari

I've just been listening to a Paul Kelly album which includes the following song about Vincent Lingiari. I haven't included it all but it gives you an idea
I found an article about Lingiari from the Member of Paliament whose electorate was name after Mr Lingiari. Stirring stuff on how one "little" man can make a difference.


Gather round people let me tell you're a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiarri
Were opposite men on opposite sides

Vestey was fat with money and muscle
Beef was his business, broad was his door
Vincent was lean and spoke very little
He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Vincent Lingiari

Lingiari was named in honour of Vincent Lingiari OAM (1908-1988), a member of the Gurindji people from the NT's Victoria River District. He was a stockman and a land rights leader who worked for many years to improve conditions for Aboriginal people working on cattle stations. Mr Lingiari was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to Aboriginal people.

One of the most significant events in Mr Lingiari's life began on 23 August 1966, when he led his Gurindji people and others off the Northern Territory's Wave Hill station to a riverbed nearby. This strike would eventually reshape the agenda of relationships between indigenous Australians and the wider community.

The Wave Hill dispute began after the station's owners refused Mr Lingiari's request that Aboriginal stockmen – who suffered appalling working and living conditions – be paid $25 a week. But it soon became much more, when the Gurindji people demanded the return of their traditional lands.

The strike lasted seven years. Over that time, support for Aboriginal rights grew as the struggle intensified. The end result was an enormously important event in our history when, during an emotional ceremony in 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured the local sand into Vincent Lingiari's hands and handed the Wave Hill station back to the Gurindji people.

Warren devoted his first speech as the member for Lingiari to this great Australian.


Post a Comment

<< Home