Bernie Kilgariff

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Bernie Kilgariff
Senator for the Northern Territory
In office
13 December 1975 – 10 July 1987
Succeeded by Grant Tambling
Personal details
Born (1923-09-30)30 September 1923
Adelaide, South Australia
Died 13 April 2010(2010-04-13) (aged 86)
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Nationality Australian
Political party Country Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Aileen Kilgariff
Occupation Farmer
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Sergeant
Unit 2/5th Australian Infantry Battalion

Bernard Francis Kilgariff AM (30 September 1923 – 13 April 2010) was an Australian politician. He was one of the founders of the Country Liberal Party and served as a member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly which included a stint as Deputy Majority Leader before being elected to the Australian Senate.

Early life[edit]

Kilgariff was born in Adelaide, South Australia, and in 1929 arrived in Alice Springs (then called Stuart) with his family on one of the first Ghan trains from Adelaide. Kilgariff's father and uncles built and ran the Barrow Creek and Tennant Creek Hotels in the early 1930s.[1]

He attended the Hartley Street School, and in 1938, the local Catholic school. His first job was building runways for the fledgling Connellan Airways.[1] On 17 June 1943, Kilgariff enlisted in the Australian Army and served overseas. At the time of his discharge on 11 September 1946, he was a Sergeant in the 2/5th Australian Infantry Battalion.[2]

Political career[edit]

After the Second World War, Kilgariff became involved in community service, and was a member of the Northern Territory Housing Commission for thirteen years. In 1960, he was approached by the Administrator of the Northern Territory with regard to joining the Northern Territory Legislative Council. Kilgariff agreed and was elected, beginning a long political career.[1]

Kilgariff was one of the founders of the Country Liberal Party, an independent political party consisting of Country Party and Liberal Party members, to field candidates at the 1974 Legislative Council elections.[1]

In 1974, the Legislative Council became the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. Kilgariff was elected to the Assembly for Alice Springs, and was named the first Speaker of the Assembly. He resigned on 16 July 1975 to become Deputy Majority Leader (equivalent to a deputy premier in the states). Shortly after that, in November 1975, he resigned as Deputy Majority Leader and from the Assembly in order to run for one of two newly created seats in the Australian Senate for the Northern Territory in the 1975 federal election.[3] Kilgariff, along with Ted Robertson (ALP) were elected as the Northern Territory's first Senators.[3]

Personal life and family[edit]

His daughter Fran is a former mayor of Alice Springs, who also ran as a Labor Party candidate in the 2005 Northern Territory general election.[4] Bernie Kilgariff died on 13 April 2010, after suffering an ongoing illness.[1][3] He was given a state funeral on 22 April.[5]


Kilgariff was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the 1989 Queen's Birthday Honours for continued service to the Northern Territory through the Northern Territory Landcare Council, the Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation, the Cattleman's Association, the Australia Day Council and St John Ambulance.[6]

In the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).[7]

In 2001, he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society through parliament.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jamieson, Ian; Bannister, Brooke (14 April 2010). "Northern Territory icon and founder of the CLP Bernie Kilgariff passes away". ABC Alice Springs. ABC Online. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  2. ^ KILGARIFF, BERNARD FRANCIS, WW2 Nominal Roll, Department of Veterans Affairs.
  3. ^ a b c Adlam, Nigel (14 April 2010). "Territory pioneer dies". Northern Territory News. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  4. ^ Adlam, Nigel (15 April 2010). "Family, friends mourn loss of NT icon Bernie". Northern Territory News. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Kissel, Anthea: CLP founder farewelled at state funeral, ABC Local Radio, 22 April 2010.
  6. ^ KILGARIFF, Bernard Francis OAM, It's an Honour, 1989.
  7. ^ KILGARIFF, Bernard Francis AM, It's an Honour, 1996.
  8. ^ KILGARIFF, Bernard Francis, It's an Honour, 2001.

Further reading[edit]

  • Forrest, Peter; Sheila Forrest. They started something : a biography of Bern and Aileen Kilgariff. Darwin: P. and S. Forrest. ISBN 0-646-45450-1. 
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
New seat Member for Alice Springs
Succeeded by
Eric Manuell
Parliament of Australia
New seat Senator for the Northern Territory
Served alongside: Ted Robertson
Succeeded by
Grant Tambling