Home' Ausmarine : October 2014 Contents There is no greater river system in Australia than the Murray.
Since settlement by the Aborigines and later the Europeans, it
has been closely connected with history.
It therefore indisputable that fishermen, who make their
living from bodies of water such as the Murray, are some of the
most knowledgeable when it comes to the environment and are
fierce protectors of nature. And there was no one more dedicated
or committed to the river than the well-known fisherman
"The man who almost single-handedly revived and
brought the river back to life"
Throughout his life, Henry fought politicians, bureaucrats, and
all and sundry to save the Murray from certain demise. South
Australians, as well as the whole of Australia, owe an enormous
debt of gratitude to the man who almost single-handedly revived
and brought the river back to life.
He was a quietly spoken Clayton Bay fisherman who raised
his voice against decades of abuse and mismanagement of the
Murray-Darling Basin. His tireless campaigns against often-brainless
bureaucracy and vested commercial interests that didn't give a
damn about the river forced historical reforms nobody in more
than a century had been able to achieve. Many at his farewell
mentioned that what he did will be documented and remembered
forever, not only for the Murray but also for the entire nation.
"A man of enormous talent who
said little but achieved much"
I met Henry many years ago, knowing little about his battles on
the river, when we both sat together on the board of the South
Australian Fishing Industry Council, providing fishermen the
assistance needed to find their rightful place in the community. It
was here where Henry's extraordinary negotiating skills with
government bodies were revealed to me. Many of us on the council
quickly came to deeply respect him as a man of enormous talent
who said little but achieved much. No doubt he was one of our
finest warriors for the fishing industry and a teacher to many of us.
Henry encouraged us to never waver from what we believed was
right, to constantly negotiate and challenge the relevant
authorities, and, most of all, to never give up. His death has left an
empty space in the fishing industry of South Australia.
Members of the fishing council as well as future generations will
remember the efforts Henry injected into the river system. It was
Henry who brought a tinny to Canberra and cooked a breakfast of
barbecued fish caught from the river outside Parliament House. He
made certain that every Member of Parliament was soon aware
that irrigation jobs weren't the only positions important to the
"This is the first time I have ever
agreed with Tony Burke"
Even ex-Minister Tony Burke, who hasn't many friends in the
fishing industry, said there was no greater champion of the Murray
Darling System than Henry: "He showed everyone respect and
conveyed an integrity and dignity which impressed all who came
in contact with this great man," he said. This is the first time I
have ever agreed with Tony Burke. He was definitely correct.
Fellow campaigner Arlene Harriss-Buchan, based in Melbourne,
spent 10 years campaigning with Henry and said Henry was a
hard-working and physical outdoor fisherman. "It didn't matter if
they were a dairy farmer, Greenie, bureaucrat or politician," she
said, "he never alienated them because he had such great insight,
wisdom and passion to get his message across."
"South Australians owed an
enormous debt to Henry"
Another prominent figure with high praise was Assistant
Regional Development Minister in the Federal Government, Jamie
Briggs. "Starting the Murray-Darling Basin plan would not have
been if it were not for Henry Jones, a community champion whose
commitment to the health of the Lower Lakes and Coorong was
without comparison," said Minister Briggs. "His remarkable legend
and generosity of spirit will live on." Liberal Senator Simon
Birmingham, meanwhile, said South Australians owed an
enormous debt to Henry for relentlessly pursuing the interests of
How I regret that we don't have more men like Henry Jones in
our industry. Because of his long association with the river
following many decades as a fisherman, Henry was instilled with a
practical knowledge that he always advocated was right. It also
always amazed me that although Henry was in contact with many
other industry leaders, he had no enemies, which in itself was
outstanding and shows the calibre of the man. Tributes of the
achievements of a man who was a fourth-generation commercial
fisherman from Clayton Bay arrived from all sectors of industry
"A complete triumph for Henry and the river"
It wasn't the greenies or bureaucrats that saved the Murray-
Darling system, it was Henry and his constant urging of our
decision-makers to take action. When the government fin ally
signed the billion-dollar Darling Plan into law in November 2012,
it was a complete triumph for Henry and the river. The plan
pledged to restore up to 320 billion litres of water to the river
system each year.
Last year, Henry Jones re ceived the inaugural River Murray
Medal award, presented by the River Murray Darling Basin
Authority. In 2013, Henry and his wife Gloria also became
members of the National Hall of Fame, marking them as national
Industry leaders of distinction are those who made a substantial
and positive contribution to the seafood industry over many
years and who have been highly effective and respected. Now, a
website will host the details of these industry icons, who exemplify
the very best as nominated by their industry peers. Henry Jones
was one of the very best.
Farewell to a giant of a man. Myself, and the rest of the fishing
industry, salute you.
Farewell to an
A column of personal opinion by one of Australia's leading
fishing industry entrepreneurs. Hagen Stehr AO of Port Lincoln.
6 October 2014 AUSMARINE
Links Archive September 2014 November 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page