Queensland bowler Eddie Gilbert puts Donald Bradman on his backside during a Sheffield Shield match in 1931. Photo: Contributed
Queensland bowler Eddie Gilbert puts Donald Bradman on his backside during a Sheffield Shield match in 1931. Photo: Contributed Contributed

Bunglers stump campaign to honour Eddie Gilbert

IN LIFE he was treated disgracefully.

In death, nothing much has changed.

The quest to name the cricket oval at Wolston Park's centre for mental health the Eddie Gilbert Memorial Field has become a bureaucratic football with Queensland Health in the gun for 18 months of inaction over the issue.

Goodna identity Keiron Butler, with the support of the community and Cr Paul Tully, initiated a campaign to have the field named after the fast bowler who took 87 wickets in 23 first-class matches for Queensland at an average of 29.98.

Mr Gilbert, a legendary Aboriginal fast bowler who famously dismissed Don Bradman for a duck in 1931, died at the Wolston Park Mental Hospital at the age of 72 in 1978.

In his latter years he would watch games being played at the historic cricket field located near the hospital. He was highly regarded by the nurses who knew him.

Mr Gilbert had lived much of his early life at Cherbourg's Barambah Aboriginal mission under the repressive 1897 Protection of Aboriginals Act and was virtually a prisoner in his own land, where he needed permission to leave the mission and chaperones when he did.

On March 13, 2013 Mr Butler wrote to Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg outlining why the field should be named after Mr Gilbert.

Mr Springborg wrote back on May 15, 2013 saying department official Kylie Beaver "has committed to keep you up to date with the submission process".

He also said West Moreton Hospital and Health Service CEO Lesley Dwyer "is considering your request and will progress a submission in due course".

Mr Butler followed up, but was unable to get any information.

The QT followed up the issue with Mr Springborg's office in an article that appeared on August 27, 2014.

A spokesperson for Mr Springborg said there was "universal support" for naming the field after Mr Gilbert. The spokesperson apologised for the delay in dealing with the issue, but said arrangements were being made that same day to act on the matter.

LEGEND: Aboriginal fast bowler Eddie Gilbert is being treated poorly in death, as he was in life.
LEGEND: Aboriginal fast bowler Eddie Gilbert is being treated poorly in death, as he was in life. Contributed

Nothing happened.

Sick of waiting, Cr Tully then wrote to Ms Dwyer on September 11, 2014 reiterating the community's desire to have the field named after Mr Gilbert.

Ms Dwyer wrote back on September 17, 2014 to say the health service was "fully supportive of Mr Butler's request, however …it was determined this land is not under the control of Queensland Health; it is under the control of Queensland Police Service".

Ms Dwyer said the health service "is providing assistance to the Queensland Police Service through Inspector Amanda Brownhill in order to progress Mr Butler's submission".

But when the QT called Insp Brownhill yesterday she said the file on Gilbert had not been sent to her by Queensland Health and that no progress could be made on the issue until it was.

The fact the land where the cricket field is located is owned by the police service was on the public record in February, 2013.

Mr Butler is furious with the behaviour of Queensland Health and said they had treated Gilbert with contempt.

"It is totally disgraceful how Eddie, a legendary Aboriginal cricketer, is being treated," he said

"If we had wanted to name this field the Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen Ground or the Campbell Newman Ground, you can be sure two days later it would have been named with a fanfare and hullabaloo.

"But because Eddie is an indigenous person, in life he was treated like dirt and in death he is being treated like dirt.

"The first letter went off 18 months ago, and then they give us a letter 18 months later saying it has been passed over to the police because they own the land, which they already knew at least 12 months ago.

"Now the police department has the land we are all concerned they are going to develop it.

"They thought I would walk away and everyone would shut their mouths…just typical of government bureaucrats.

"Having worked for the department of health for over 25 years I think they are the most incompetent people I have ever dealt with.

"I don't blame the Minister. I blame the bureaucrats."

FUMING: Keiron Butler is ropable that bureaucrats have bungled the community's desire for the Wolston Park cricket ground to be named after Eddie Gilbert. Claudia Baxter
FUMING: Keiron Butler is ropable that bureaucrats have bungled the community's desire for the Wolston Park cricket ground to be named after Eddie Gilbert. Claudia Baxter Claudia Baxter


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