The State funeral for Tracker Tilmouth will take place at 10am on Thursday, 12 March 2015 at St Mary’s Cathedral in Darwin.
Leigh Bruce “Tracker” Tilmouth passed away in Darwin this weekend. There will be no shortage of comments by others about Tracker in the coming days and weeks but I reckon that his own words will ring louder and longer than those of others.
Tracker had that rare ability to have you roaring with laughter with him–or in anger at him–in equal measure within the same conversation. I saw Tracker last week and as always we shared a laugh and a joke.
An absolutely fearless man taken too soon.
Here are some select Tracker quotes for the memories.
“Probably the last time she saw a real Aborigine was when she was licking a postage stamp.” Tracker on Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“Labor likes pet niggers, and I’m counted as a pet nigger. I’m allowed to mow the lawns, but I’m not allowed up on the verandah.” Tracker on his struggles with pre-selection for the Senate in the NT.
“You can jump in a truck, do a 3 kilometre trip 30 times a day for 12 hours, two weeks on and two weeks off. I don’t care how many Slim Dusty or Charlie Pride tapes you have listened to, if you aren’t an axe murderer or social misfit you will go home with your soul destroyed.” Tracker on working as a FIFO haul-truck driver in a mine.
“You are such a fucking smartarse, why don’t you get an education?” and I said, “You are such a fucking smartarse, why don’t you pay?” An exchange between Tracker and a senior bureaucrat, who did pay and Tracker went on to complete a degree in environmental management.
“Take a look. That’s not only a disgrace. It symbolises what I believe amounts to a form of cultural and social genocide,” he says. “This is as bad as anywhere on Earth, right here on Australian soil.” Tracker on Aboriginal housing in central Australia.
“For the last 20 years we’ve all voted Labor, they just expected us to vote Labor. It’s a plantation mentality.” Tracker on how Labor took the Aboriginal vote for granted.
“The poor old Labor Party, Warren Mundine fell for the same thing I did when they nominated me for the senate, if I remember. And my statement was that you’re an Aboriginal person, you’re allowed on the wood heap and you’re allowed to mow the lawns and you’re allowed on the veranda, but under no circumstances are you allowed in the kitchen or at the dining table.” Tracker on Labor and Warren Mundine.
“Mundine found that out to his horror and shock and horror. That Mundine would have been, may have been quite good in there—we don’t know. And he’ll never get another chance and he’ll go the way of every other Aboriginal person that ever joined the Labor Party, that the federal party’s for white people, it’s not for Aboriginal people.” Tracker on Mundine and Labor (again).
“We can’t trust the NT Government, we can’t trust any other State Governments because they have not delivered in the past, we don’t expect them to deliver in the future.” Tracker on relationships between State and Territory governments.
“ATSIC was murdered the day it was born, let’s face it. It was still-born.” Tracker on the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission.
“Clare, the question is: where’s the money, show us the money, show us what you spent, show us what your record is.” Tracker to Clare Martin, Labor Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.
“If this is a model of success, give me Soweto in its heyday, give me Soweto any time prior Nelson Mandela’s release or after his release, give me Soweto as a comparison and I’d rather go to Soweto.” Tracker on the success of a COAG service delivery trial at Wadeye, a large Aboriginal community in the NT.
“The Labor Party had imported a lot of political advisors from down south who had no understanding of the culture or political situation in the Northern Territory and they came up with the brilliant idea to go and run the race card.” Tracker on the NT ALP policies for the 2005 general election.
“I’ve got no problem with white lawyers and anthropologists. You’re working your arse off for me, remember.” Tracker on his relationships with professional non-Aboriginal staff at the Northern and Central Land Councils, where he worked for many years.
“What do they want us to do? Spoon feed the lizards?” Tracker, when Central Land Council Chairman, reportedly during negotiations to do with Aboriginal joint-management of Kings Canyon National Park.
If you have some memorable Tracker quotes please leave them in a comment below. I’ll provide updates on proceedings as relevant.