|Birth Day:||March 28, 1922|
|Death Date:||Feb 5, 1999 (age 76)|
As per our current Database, Neville Bonner died on Feb 5, 1999 (age 76).
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He was a farm laborer before becoming Assistant Settlement Overseer at Palm Island.
Bonner married Mona Banfield in 1943. They had five sons and fostered three daughters. Mona Bonner died in 1969. Neville married Heather Ryan in 1972.
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.
In 1979 Bonner was jointly named Australian of the Year along with naturalist Harry Butler. In 1984 Bonner was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia. From 1992 to 1996 he was member of the Griffith University Council. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1993. In 1998 he was elected to the Constitutional Convention as a candidate of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy.
Bonner was almost unique in being an Indigenous activist and a political conservative: in fact he owed his political career to this combination. In the face of often savage personal criticism from left-wing Indigenous activists, he often denied being a "token" in the Liberal Party. In 1981 Bonner was the only government voice opposing a bill put forth that would allow drilling in the Great Barrier Reef. He regularly "crossed the floor" on bills, a characteristic that has endeared him to politicians today but is often considered the reason for his political career coming to an end.
The Neville Bonner Memorial Scholarship was established by the federal government in 2000 and is now considered Australia's most prestigious scholarship for Indigenous Australians to study Honours in Political Science or related subjects at any recognised Australian university.
The Queensland federal electorate of Bonner was created in 2004 and was named in his honour. Also, a recently re-developed rugby league oval in Ipswich was named the Neville Bonner Sporting Complex in his honour. This oval was formerly home to an exclusively Indigenous side, but is now the official home of the Queensland Cup side, the Ipswich Jets, and the IRL/IJRL finals and junior representative. The suburb of Bonner in Canberra, Australia's national capital, also bears his name.
Currently, Neville Bonner is 99 years, 8 months and 0 days old. Neville Bonner will celebrate 100th birthday on a Monday 28th of March 2022.
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