And Galarrwuy Yunupingu? He's about to turn 70, but still keeps a sharp eye on development and is guiding every step taken. He has straddled the whole of the Northern Territory's history of self-government, been public enemy number one, and respected elder number one, sometimes at the same time. He has hosted every prime minister since Whitlam and none claim to have bettered him.
I cannot be any more clear than this: Labor supports a voice for Aboriginal people in our Constitution, we support a declaration by all parliaments, we support a truth-telling commission. We are not confronted by the notion of treaties with our first Australians. For us the question is not whether we do these things, the question is not if we should do these things but when and how. The Parliament needs to be engaged. The Parliament needs to be engaged now. The Parliament needs to start the process of engaging with the people of Australia now.
Bukudjulni gonga’yurri napurrunha Yirrkalalili yulnunha malanha Balamumu, Narrkala, Gapiny, Miliwurrwurr, nanapurru dhuwala mala, ga Djapu, Mangalili, Madarrpa, Magarrwanalmirri, Djambarrpuynu, Marrkulu, Gumaitj, Galpu, Dhaluangu, Wangurri, Warramirri, Naymil, Riritjingu malamanapanmirri djal dhunapa.
"Territory Parliament was in an uproar. The government said the new owners would ruin Elsey as a cattle station and cause untold damage to the Territory economy. Aborigines were taking over the land at a terrifying rate, a sure sign of the imminent death of the cattle industry." Background Briefing, 1999.
The loss of the 'Selamat Dua' is one of the great nautical regrets of my life, because two years later I was living and working in East Timor following the crisis and the 'Selamat Dua' would have been perfect over there - Tony Haritos.
All four governments appear unwilling to sit down together and work out an equitable solution: the Commonwealth in particular appears reluctant to knock a few heads together and get the results needed.
Paul Kelly remembers a great man and a great friend: "I thank you man of balance. I thank you brother."
The Territory has challenged all who have come to its shores except for the first Australians who managed to live in harmony with all of its natural elements for many many thousands of years – probably somewhere within that lies the key for the rest of us.
It is unsurprising that across Aboriginal Australia the Pleiades - and their heavenly companions in Orion's Belt - are very much alive as actors in culture, life and the seasonal calendars that provided essential relationship between the lived here-and-now and the journeys and adventures of the heroic ancestors.