The first Aboriginal woman elected to Queensland parliament has vowed to floodlight the path first set by her famous forebear, Aunty Kath Walker.
Leeanne Enoch is a former high school teacher and indigenous policy adviser, and made history this weekend by winning the Brisbane seat of Algester as Labor stunned the Liberal National Party at the State Election.
Ms Enoch unseated the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) Anthony Shorten.
She joins north Queenslander Billy Gordon, who took the seat of Cook, in the vast electorate that spans Cape York and Torres Strait, as Queensland Labor’s first indigenous parliamentarians and the first in the state in 41 years.
“It’s almost overwhelming, it’s incredible – an incredible feeling,” Ms Enoch said on Sunday.
“Who would have ever thought three years ago we (Labor) would be in this position?”
In 2012 Labor was reduced to just seven MPs.
At the time, Ms Enoch – preselected for the Gold Coast seat of Coomera – was national head of Red Cross’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island programs.
She said it was slashing of funding to community organisations which triggered her decision to follow in the footsteps of her “Aunty Kath” – pioneering activist and poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal.
“We’re from the same people, the same nation (Nunukul-Nughi), and she was the first Aboriginal woman to run as a Labor candidate after the 1967 referendum,” Ms Enoch said.
“She set a beacon on the path where you could go `that path is lit up, I wonder what’s down there?’
“When you have people like that in your life it’s something that sits in the back of your mind, the back of your conversations and decisions in what you end up doing in your life. ”
Ms Enoch said the onus was on her and Mr Gordon to transform the excitement of their success to a lasting legacy.
“Forty years it’s been since we’ve seen an Aboriginal person in parliament, and that was Uncle Eric Deeral, and he was there for one term and that was it,” she said.
“My job and Billy’s job is just to put the floodlight on the path – to say this is possible.”
Mr Gordon was born in Innisfail and describes himself as a longtime local with strong ties to the far north Queensland community.
He is a father of five who has worked in a wide range of different industries and spent time in the Army Reserve.
According to his Queensland Labor online profile, Mr Graham has worked cutting sugarcane and on banana farms, in the construction of houses in the Gulf of Carpentaria and has even been a barman at a pub in Normanton.