A new inner-city pedestrian bridge to be built as part of the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane project will honour the life and legacy of Australia’s first Indigenous parliamentarian, Neville Bonner.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham announced the naming of The Neville Bonner Bridge today at a ceremony at the Neville Bonner Building in William Street.
Members of the Bonner family, including Senator Bonner’s son Alfred ‘Tiny’ Bonner, were at the ceremony today at the award-winning building named after the late senator when it opened in 1999.
“Naming the new bridge after Senator Bonner acknowledges a great life of service to Queensland and Australia, and symbolically links cultures,” Dr Lynham said.
“We thank Tiny and the Bonner family for allowing us to name the bridge in honour of their late father, grandfather and uncle,” he said.
The new bridge will be part of the $3 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development and link both sides of the river.
The Neville Bonner Building will close on 31 December 2016, after staff relocate to 1 William Street in October. The building will be demolished in the New Year to make way for Queen’s Wharf Brisbane.
Treasurer, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Minister for Sport, Mr Curtis Pitt said Senator Bonner’s historic appointment to the Australian Senate representing the Liberal Party on 17 August 1971 was a turning point for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
“As Australia’s first Aboriginal person in Federal Parliament, Senator Bonner worked to ensure Aboriginal people retained their cultural identity, while acquiring the economic, educational and social opportunities that non-Indigenous Australians took for granted,” he said.
“As a Senator for our state he represented all Queenslanders but should also be remembered for the contribution he made to increasing understanding in our community of the rich cultural heritage of Aboriginal people.
“The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships plans on keeping the legacy alive and has secured arrangements to ensure key sculptures and artworks displayed at the Neville Bonner building are relocated to highly visible locations.
“The Neville Bonner Bust – a larger than life bronze sculpture— will be displayed at Queensland’s Parliament House while the well-known stainless steel chain mesh construction on the outside of the building, The Net, will be transferred and put on display at the new 1 William Street building.”
The area where the Neville Bonner Building is currently located, will in part be transformed into public realm space and an Indigenous way and mangrove walk.
Senator Bonner was the first Indigenous Australian to become a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. He was initially appointed to fill a casual Senate vacancy in 1971 and serviced until 1983. In 1979 he was named Australian of the Year.
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