Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Ernie Bridge AM

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, has honoured the work of Indigenous Labor politician Ernie Bridge.

Mr Bridge’s funeral is being held today after he passed away recently at age 76.

Mr Bridge was a true leader and trailblazer, as Western Australia’s first Aboriginal MP and the first Indigenous cabinet minister in any Australian government.

He was the Kimberley MLA from 1980 to 2001, and served as the Minister for Water Resources, the North West and Aboriginal Affairs in the Western Australian Government.

Mr Bridge paved the way for Aboriginal rights through his fight for remote policing and pressure for land rights.

He served on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal-police relations at Skull Creek, near Laverton which led to a significant change in the way police interact with Aboriginal people across Australia.

In 1993, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to the WA Parliament and to Aboriginal Affairs.

In 2011, he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to the parliament and Aboriginal Affairs.

In June 2012, he was honoured by being named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the Indigenous community, particularly through support for health management programs, and to the Parliament of Western Australia.

Ms Macklin extended her condolences to Mr Bridge’s family, friends and the Kimberley community.