Two old men at Rapid Creek markets …

rapidcreekmarketKen: G’day Tab.
Tab: G’day Ken. What are ya doin’?
Ken: Just sitting here reading the Sunday paper and eating these squid satays …
Tab: Mind if I join you?
Ken: Not at all. Pull up a chair …
Tab: What are you doing these days? (I represented him at one stage in one of his numerous excursions into land claims and native title claims. We say hello whenever we pass but haven’t sat down and chatted for years)
Ken: Teaching law out at the uni. Been there for about eight years now. Got sick of private practice law. Too much of a grind …

I go back to the Sunday paper but there’s not much in it …

Ken: Saw on a poster you were giving a speech the other day out at CDU about that Fannie Bay marina proposal …
Tab: Nah, it was about the Inpex gas plant and East Arm. But I might get onto that marina thing too …
Ken: You want to be careful there. That Helen Secretary is in favour of it and her mob owns all that land.
Tab: Yeah, but she’s only one woman ya know. What about the rest of the community? The land commissioner recommended all that land be held by a trust you know.
Ken: Yeah maybe. But it’s actually owned by Gwalwa Daraniki on a special purpose lease, and Helen’s the President.
Tab: Yeah, but she’s only one woman.
Ken: But a fearsome one. She killed her first husband you know, and he was a lot bigger than you or me …
Tab: Mmmm … Ya know I was the President of Gwalwa Daraniki once, for 24 hours …
Ken: What happened?


Tab: They found out my mob hadn’t paid our $2 membership fee so there’d have to be another vote … Ya think you’ll ever go back into politics?
Ken: Nah. Been there done that. It was an amazing experience but I wasn’t cut out for it. Can’t work a room. Funny thing … I can give a speech to a lecture theatre full of students or talk to someone that I know like you, no problem. But walking around a room talking socially to strangers, almost impossible … Look at someone like Kon Vatskalis. He took to it like a duck to water …
Tab: Yeah I know what you mean. They can be useful though politicians, but usually they promise things but nothing ever changes. You know that Kon Vatskalis was down at Fannie Bay not long ago for Greek Easter. Huge fireworks everywhere. I asked him how they could do that when fireworks are only legal on Territory Day. He told me it was Greek Easter, that’s what they do …  They built Darwin ya know, the Greeks.  Back in the 50s and 60s.  Dug the sewer mains with picks and shovels, no backhoes in them days.
Ken: No air-conditioning either.
Tab: Nah. But nothing’s straight ya know. Not a straight line in any of them buildings …
Ken: They’re still building everything too. Look at that Halikos bloke. Just finishing that huge apartment block on the Esplanade.
Tab: You related to that Tim Parish over at Harney Beach?
Ken: Nah, he’s the son of Bill Parish, another lawyer. No relation. It’s a bit of a lawyers’ enclave that Harney Beach … Ya know you should still study law Tab. Remember I told you that 20 years ago.1
Tab: I might get into human rights law …
Ken: Yeah it’s a coming thing. Did you see Frank Brennan is enquiring into the possibility of national human rights legislation for the federal government? But you’d still need a piece of paper, like Tom Calma or Mick Dodson.
Tab: Mmmm … Anyway, better keep movin’. Good to talk to you again.
Ken: Yeah ditto. See ya Tab.

  1. I told him in the same conversation that he should find out from Bill Harney about Larrakia business. If he had then he might have had a show of winning the native title claim, instead of losing it based on failing to retain and practise traditional customs and lore. But it would have been a shame job to go to a Wardaman man and ask about your own clan’s business … Actually Tab knows a lot more than many, but some of the other groups dispute that he’s a traditional owner at all.  The Larrakia couldn’t agree between themselves what time of day it was, and the groups with indisputable lineage mostly don’t have anyone who knows anything much about country and culture. ~ KP []

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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