Skip to main content

Linda Burney MLA Canturbury and Rick Farley at home, Marrickville
, 2003

by Juno Gemes

inkjet print (sheet: 60.7 cm x 50.8 cm, image: 50.6 cm x 41.5 cm)

Hon Linda Burney (b. 1957), the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the House of Representatives, was also the first Aboriginal person elected to the New South Wales parliament and the first Aboriginal person to graduate from the Mitchell College of Advanced Education (now Charles Sturt University). Burney started work as a high school teacher in 1979. Later, she joined the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs, of which she was to become director-general. She was Labor member for Canterbury from 2003; in 2016 she resigned from the seat, and the deputy leadership of the NSW Labor party, to take up the federal seat of Barton. Burney’s late partner, Rick Farley (1952- 2006) was a journalist and parliamentary adviser before becoming executive director of the National Farmers’ Federation in 1988. Under his leadership the federation accepted the necessity to commit to land care and conservation and to recognise native title claims. He and Burney served together on the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in the 1990s, and began their relationship at the convention on reconciliation in 1997. Wrapped in a splendid kangaroo-skin cloak, Burney paid tribute to Farley in her affecting maiden speech in federal Parliament in 2016.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2005
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2005.74