PM acknowledges Brungle man at Parliament Opening

RIVERINA MP Michael McCormack was pleased today’s opening of the 44th Federal Parliament acknowledged historic Brungle and Wiradjuri man, Jimmy Clements. Clements, although unacknowledged at the time, was present at the opening of the first Parliamentary sitting in Canberra on 9 May 1927.

In the Welcome to Country prior to the swearing-in of the new Parliament, Ngambri elder Matilda House-Williams, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid tribute to Mr Clements as the first Aboriginal person to be present at such an occasion. 

In paying tribute, the Prime Minister highlighted Mr Clements’ unacknowledged symbolism that day.

“The first Parliament to meet here in this city 86 years ago was opened by the Duke of York. There was one
indigenous person present that day. Matilda has already recalled the presence on that day of a local man, Jimmy Clements. And that man on the side of the ceremony was every bit as much a symbol of unity as the representative of the Crown, because Jimmy Clements, although unacknowledged that day, carried with
him an Australian flag,” Mr Abbott said. 

Matilda House-Williams also paid tribute to Mr Clements’ legacy, highlighting the historic election of two Aboriginal Members of Parliament, Hasluck MP Ken Wyatt and Northern Territory Senator Nova Peris. 

Mr McCormack also praised Mr Clements, highlighting the significance of the Wiradjuri people and their story to the Riverina electorate.

“The Wiradjuri people are a proud people with a proud history which was rightfully acknowledged today,” Mr McCormack said.

“The people of Brungle and the Wiradjuri nation as a whole are etched in Australia’s Parliamentary history, and I am proud to represent them here in Canberra.”

Parliament resumed today for the first time since the September 7 Federal Election.

Cristy Houghton