Who was the first Aboriginal Australian to become a member of the Parliament of Australia?
Neville Thomas Bonner (28 March 1922 – 5 February 1999) was an Australian politician, and the first Aboriginal Australian to become a member of the Parliament of Australia. He was appointed by the Queensland Parliament to fill a casual vacancy in the representation of Queensland in the Senate, and later became the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the parliament by popular vote. Neville Bonner was an elder of the Jagera people.
Neville Bonner was born in Ukerebagh Island, a small island on the Tweed River in northern New South Wales. He never knew his father and had no formal education. He worked as a ring barker, cane cutter and stockman before settling on Palm Island, near Townsville, Queensland in 1946, where he rose to the position of Assistant Settlement Overseer.
In 1960 he lived in Ipswich, where he joined the board of directors of the One People Of Australia League (OPAL), a moderate Indigenous rights organisation. He became its Queensland president in 1970. He joined the Liberal Party in 1967 and held local office in the party. Following the resignation of Liberal Senator Annabelle Rankin in 1971, Bonner was chosen to fill the casual vacancy and he became the first Indigenous Australian to sit in the Australian Parliament. He was elected in his own right in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1980.