PHILANTHROPIST Dick Smith wasn’t going to muck around during a ceremonial tree planting on Mornington Island.
He was there to work and made that abundantly clear when he teased the nearest politician – Bob Katter – into speeding up the process.
He gave cheek to the Federal Member for Kennedy during the token tree planting which symbolises the start to a project in making the island – which has a high rates of diabetes – have a more sustainable supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Mr Smith is an ambassador for the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. He flew Mr Katter and radio presenter Ian “Macca” McNamara to the remote indigenous island in the Gulf of Carpentaria to endorse the community garden project.
It was no use anyone procrastinating the project’s start with Mr Smith around, even in the Gulf of Carpentaria’s steamy midday heat.
“Come on...a bit of work,” Mr Smith said as he held the shovel, and then despite the others standing around including Macca chose to target the closest politician.
“Come on Bob, gee!” he said, and then proceeding to tell him the plastic protecting the roots needed to come off. “Don’t wreck the tree.”
Mr Katter protested, “I’ve planted 400 of these.”
Mr Smith – who claims one of the world’s best April Fools joke for once tricking Sydney into thinking he towed an iceberg from Antarctica for the sake of promoting the business he then owned, Dick Smith Electronics – then turned to the video camera and said “We got Ian McNamara from Australia All Over, Bob Katter, I don’t know what he does...quick, quick, quick.”
Also in the video was Mornington Shire Council chief executive Frank Mills. State Member Rob Katter and Mornington Shire mayor Brad Wilson also helped.
105 fruit trees have been donated by Bunnings and by Mr Smith.
The types of fruit include avocados, mangoes, citrus and curry leaf trees, Mr Mills said.
After planting several trees near the community’s football grounds the planters attended the official ceremony at the Old Historical Well Site.
Mr Smith spoke to members of the community – all sitting a distance away in the nearest tree’s shade – before Macca performed a John Williamson classic, Raining on the Rocks.
Despite calls for an encore Macca was eager to stand aside so that local musician Charlie Anderson could perform a song he wrote; Gununa, a native word he said meant “plenty to eat”.