Ken Wyatt Campaign T-shirt #2011-1787
Cotton t-shirt size M, blue fabric with white screen printed inscription on front and back: ‘Ken Wyatt, Liberal for Hasluck, Active, Dedicated and Qualified.’
Only three Australians who identify as Indigenous have served in the Commonwealth Parliament. The first, Neville Bonner (1922-1999), was a Jagera man from Palm Island in Queensland. He was appointed to fill a casual vacancy in 1971 for the Liberal Party and held his seat until 1983. In 1999 he was followed by Aden Ridgeway (b. 1962) of the Gumbaynggir people who was elected to the Senate for New South Wales as an Australian Democrat and served as the party’s deputy leader from 2001 to 2002.
On 24 August 2010, Kenneth George Wyatt (b. 1952) became the first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives when he narrowly won the West Australian seat of Hasluck for the Liberal Party. Wyatt had held a position in indigenous health and education agencies for many years before his election. His mother was part of the ‘stolen generation’. When Wyatt attended the opening of the 44th Parliament on 28 September 2010, he wore a cloak presented to him by elders of the Nyungar people made from kangaroo skin and red-tailed black cockatoo feathers, a symbol of leadership in the Nyungar culture. In his maiden speech, Wyatt received a standing ovation. During his speech, he said ‘It is with deep and mixed emotion that I, as an Aboriginal man with Noongar, Yamitji and Wongi heritage, stand before you and the members of the House of Representatives as an equal’.
Other prominent Indigenous people who have served in State and Territory parliaments include Linda Burney (NSW, the first Indigenous person to hold a party leadership position as deputy leader of the Labor Party from 2011), Marion Scrymgour (NT, the first Indigenous member of an Australian Cabinet), Carol Martin (WA, the first Indigenous woman elected to any Australian parliament) and Ken Wyatt’s cousin Ben Wyatt (WA, a prominent figure in the Labor Shadow Cabinet).