31 August 2021: The passing of Mr Wavehill

31 August 2021

Mr Wavehill
Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory—Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (13:44): [by video link] My condolences go to the Kalkarindji community for the passing of Mudburra elder Mr Wavehill last week. He was one of the stockmen who walked off Wave Hill in 1966, led by Vincent Lingiari. He was a remarkable man who leaves behind an even bigger legacy. He protested against the poor conditions and to take back the land that belonged to them. This is why it was so important to be able to celebrate Freedom Day here in the Northern Territory. For those of us who have walked in the footprints behind Mr Wavehill, Mr Lingiari and so many other Gurindji leaders, now is the time to reflect, when we lose our elders. We didn't have the celebration this year because of COVID. We may have the celebration later this year.

It was Gough Whitlam who symbolically passed a handful of sand to the old man, Vincent Lingiari. Fifty-five years on, the community still wish to celebrate the birthplace of land rights, and that anniversary was last Monday. While it is sad that it has been cancelled, I know that the community are looking forward to when they can have people back to Kalkarindji and can celebrate the life of an amazing man, Mr Wavehill. The movement with Mr Lingiari, whose grandchildren joined the fight last year to maintain the electorate of Lingiari in the NT, was so critical to us being able to save the seat in Lingiari, along with, obviously, now the seat of Solomon. My heart goes out to all the families in Kalkarindji; the Wave Hill people; Rosie Smiler; all the grandchildren; but also the Gurindji association, the men and women who work tirelessly; and the union movement, who are still very much part of the way of life of the Wave Hill people. This is an important year. I send my best wishes not just from myself but also my family. Bauji barra.