Thursday, 5 December 2019
Tenni, Hon. Martin James, OAM
It's with great sadness that I rise here today to pay tribute to a giant of politics in Far North Queensland who recently passed away. Martin Tenni will be fondly remembered by those who knew him and the broader community as a leader and a person who used his political career to get things done.
Martin was born in Cairns in 1934 and, after attending state schools in the region, he underwent national service training in 1952 before entering the hardware business, eventually managing his own company. Martin married the love of his life, Dawn, in the Cairns Presbyterian Church on 3 March 1956. They remained married for nearly 65 years, until his passing.
Martin was first elected to the Mareeba Shire Council in 1970 as a councillor, a role that he remained in for three years before being elected as chairman. In 1974, Martin was elected to the Queensland parliament as the National Party member for Barron River. He served under the Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and later premiers Mike Ahern and Russell Cooper. In 1983 he was promoted to the frontbench as Minister for Environment, Valuation and Administrative Services. During his time in the parliament, he served as the Minister for Water Resources and Maritime Services, Minister for Mines and Energy and Minister for Northern Development, so he was there right at the forefront of our northern Australian initiatives.
Martin Tenni is widely regarded as one of the people who helped shape our region. He delivered the Captain Cook Highway to Port Douglas, a road that was recently voted as one of the most scenic drives in the world. Martin, along with the member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, was instrumental in helping get electricity into the islands throughout the Torres Strait. He also secured the land for James Cook University and funding to build the Smithfield State High School, both of which remain there today. He also secured funding for many primary schools, including those in the Daintree and Mount Molloy, and significant hospital upgrades at Mareeba, Mossman and Cairns. Martin retired from politics in 1989 but remained very much active in the community that he loved. In June this year, Martin was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services during his lifetime to the people of Far North Queensland.
Martin is survived by his beloved wife, Dawn, two children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. May he rest in peace. He was a man who did a hell of a lot of work during the time that he was there. He made an outstanding contribution to Far North Queensland in so many ways. He was very much an old-style politician but one who was very much valued and loved within the community. We'll certainly miss him.