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Members’ biographical register

Mr Ernest Francis Bridge

Principal Honours
Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal awarded for community service 1977
Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) awarded 13 June 1993 in recognition of service to the WA Parliament and to Aboriginal Affairs
Centenary Medal awarded 1 January 2001 for service to the parliament and Aboriginal affairs
Centenary of Federation Medal awarded 2003
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) awarded 11 June 2012 for service to the Indigenous community, particularly through support for health management programs, and to the Parliament of Western Australia
Date: 1936
Place: Halls Creek, Western Australia
Arrival in WA
Ernest Kimberley Bridge, pastoralist, and Sarah Parnell
Marriage and Family
Married 17 September 1960, Goulburn, New South Wales to Mavis Ida Granger, daughter of Vernal and Evelyn Ranger
Children: two sons and two daughters
Date: 31 March 2013
Place: Doubleview, Western Australia
Cemetery: Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park Cemetery, WA
Cause of Death:
Derby Primary School and by correspondence
Farmer and businessperson
Employment History
Began employment as stockman and also as jockey for six years
Pastoralist and owner of droving plant prior to 1959
Businessperson since 1959
Assisted in building family owned shop in Halls Creek
Airline agent for MacRobertson–Miller Airlines 1962–1967
Operated open-air picture theatre in Halls Creek 1967–1975
On death of father ran the family property, Koongie Park, and shop
Purchased service station 1973 in partnership with wife
Local Government Service
Halls Creek Shire Council 6 August 1962–May 1980
President Halls Creek Shire Council 1965–1979
Independent from 27 July 1996
Date Elected
23 February 1980
Inaugural Speech
Bridge, Ernest Francis, Inaugural Speech.pdf
Inaugural Video
No inaugural video is available as filming did not start until May 2003
Search for speeches by Ernest Bridge
Valedictory Speech
Bridge, Ernest Francis, Valedictory Speech.pdf
Year Retired/Resigned
Parliamentary Service
  • MLA Kimberley 23 February 1980–10 February 2001. Elected to the Thirtieth Parliament for Kimberley on 23 February 1980 in succession to Keith Alan Ridge (defeated). Re-elected 1983, 1986, 1989, 1993, 1996. Did not contest general election 10 February 2001.
  • Contested Kimberley 19 February 1977, 17 December 1977 (by-election)

  • Minister for Water Resources, the North–West and Aboriginal Affairs 25 July 1986 (Hon Minister assisting from 25 February 1986)–28 February 1989, also Minister for Small Business 25 February 1988–28 February 1989
  • Minister for Agriculture, Water Resources and North–West 28 February 1989–16 February 1993
  • Shadow Minister for Trade (until 18 October 1994), Aboriginal Affairs and the North West 16 February 1993–27 July 1996

  • Member, Select Committee on the Water Bill 7 May 1991–6 March 1992

Royal Commissions
  • Member, Royal Commission on the Welfare of Aborigines in Laverton Area 1975–1976

Historical Notes
  • First Aboriginal cabinet minister in Australia
Private Member's Bills
Inaugural member, Aboriginal Lands Trust 1962, Commissioner Aboriginal Land Fund Committee 1974, chairman Aboriginal Land Inquiry 1983
Chairman, Argyle Social Impact Funding Group 1985
Commissioner of the Inquiry into Aboriginal–Police Relations at Skull Creek 1975–1976
Member, Kimberley Division, Pastoralists and Graziers Association 1960s
Member, Broome Botanical Society
President, Halls Creek Allsports Club, Golf Club, Small Bore Rifle Club
Learned to fly a Cessna
Recorded several albums of Australia bush ballads

Member, Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame 1984
Jockey who rode first winner at 15 years, won Halls Creek Cup as jockey in 1955
D Black and G Bolton, eds. Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia, Vol. 2, 1930-2010, Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Perth, WA, 2010 , p. 26.
Metropolitan Cemeteries Board website. Accessed 5 May 2015.
Further Information
Bridge, Ernest Francis, Oral History.pdfBridge, Ernest Francis, Oral History.pdf

The Kimberley Man:
"Filmmaker Jeremy Thomson goes on a journey to discover more about his fascinating grandfather, Indigenous politician Ernie Bridge, a man who transformed tribulation into triumph giving the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley an unprecedented voice in Western politics."