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MP's sudden death a "huge loss" for the Northern Territory

Giovanni Torre -

The Member for Arafura, in the far north of the Northern Territory, died suddenly over the weekend.

The MP, who we have not named in this report for cultural reasons, was 52 when he passed away on Saturday.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said she felt "great sadness" for the loss."He was the Member for Arafura but more than that, he was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a leader in the community and a friend to many.

He was our friend, we are shocked and saddened and will miss him greatly," she said.

"As the Member for Arafura, he served the communities of the Tiwi Islands, Maningrida and West Arnhem for more than six years, however his was a lifetime of service, striving to better people's lives in roles across Local Government, ATSIC and the Health Sector. His efforts throughout his working life impacted many people's lives for the better, delivering better services, jobs, homes and health outcomes."

The MP, a Tiwi Islander man, lived on his homeland Pitjarmirra north of Melville Island and had a long history of public service.

He worked for the Pirlangimpi Community Government Council from 1996 to 2002, and was elected on Jabiru Regional Council as the Deputy Chairman.

He served as chairperson of North West Regional Council from 2002 to 2005, and as chief executive of Tiwi Islands Local Government.

After the amalgamations of shires he became director of Community Development with Tiwi Islands Shire Council, a position he held until 2013. He had also worked as a health service development officer for the Department of Health.

Ms Fyles said he was known for his compassion and his giving nature.

"Family and friends meant everything to him and his generosity and care for people was enormous," she said.

"Whatever he was doing, his wife Ebony, his children and grandchildren were always close to his thoughts, and time with family was what he cherished most.

"His passing is a huge loss for his family, friends and the Northern Territory. I and his Parliamentary colleagues are only a few of many, many people around the Territory and the country who will be deeply saddened by his loss."

The Chief Minister passed on her sincere condolences "to Ebony and the family and to all those whose lives he touched".

Arafura is in western Arnhem Land and the Tiwi Islands, and includes the towns of Gunbalanya, Jabiru, Maningrida, Milikapiti and Nguiu.

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