Home Australia Bryant’s Anniversary Series, Part 7: Port Arthur Seminar Papers, the National Library,...

Bryant’s Anniversary Series, Part 7: Port Arthur Seminar Papers, the National Library, and Senator Parry


fountainFountain at the Australian National Library

by Mary W Maxwell

Thanks to Andrew MacGregor I have found out that there is much to be seen in the Port Arthur Seminar Papers of 1997. Already Dee and I quoted, in Chapter 3 of our book, from the Ian Matterson report (which Cherri Bonney had supplied to me). I believe those seminar papers were also the place where Keith Noble first saw Stephen Parry’s remark about having embalming equipment “ready” for the incident.

Nineteen libraries in Oz (and none abroad) carry the 1997 Seminar Papers, according to Worldcat.org.  The book is Dewey’d at 363.3497809.1 (not far from Carleen Bryant’s My Story.)

I checked the National Library, Canberra and saw that the Seminar Papers constitute a mere 137 pages. Find it at: “Port Arthur Seminar papers: a record of the proceedings of the Port Arthur Seminar, 11-12 March 1997, Melbourne, Victoria.”

The website said that the book is included in “Trove.” I was under the impression that the NLA’s “trove” is an electronic collection of historic pieces. Alas, this vital item is only in bound form.  I shall write to the wonderful trove people (they ARE wonderful) and recommend that the book be scanned. “Every citizen will want one.”

Come to think of it, it could be used as part of the citizenship tests given to immigrants. It could help put the ‘fair’ into Advance, Australia fair.

Since Adelaide does not have a copy, I figure I can read the one held by Macquarie Uni when I am in Steak and Kidney next week. Checking their website I chanced to see this:

“Macquarie University is one of the most highly regarded research universities in the world. In the latest national research assessment – 2015 Excellence in Research Australia – 100 per cent of Macquarie’s research was rated at world standard or higher …  we conduct and communicate our research with the same high standard of integrity and ethical rigour…. Macquarie is focused on maintaining a strong research culture that is built upon respect, honesty and compliance.”

I imagine their law and politics departments would want to give the long-buried 1997 Port Arthur Seminar Papers some fresh attention! I shall ask them to do so. (Mal Hughes is my role model here.) I am sure they won’t bed-bug me.

In the Words of the Late Joe Paul

Here, slightly abridged, is Joe Paul’s introduction to the seminar papers:

Background to the Conduct of Port Arthur Seminar

Joe Paul, Executive Officer, State Disaster Committee

After the 28 April 1996 mass shooting at Port Arthur, a number of operational debriefs were held by the emergency services and by other involved organisations.

The Director of the State Emergency Service in Tasmania invited the Director General of Emergency Management Australia, Mr Alan Hodges to attend [a memorial] event and speak. [At that event they] discussed the possibility of conducting a seminar on the mainland of Australia to pass on all of the lessons learnt….

Subsequently the Director General offered to host a seminar in Melbourne. The concept was agreed by the State Disaster Committee in Tasmania. As a general principle it was agreed that only those persons who had a direct involvement in the event [ahem] either at the scene or in Hobart in a co-ordinating capacity should attend and speak.

A date for the seminar was then set for 10-11 December 1996. This date was set as it was felt that the legal aspects of the case would be wound up by that time.

[That means that despite Martin Bryant having consistently pleaded NOT GUILTY up until September 30, 1996, it was “expected” that he would cave in and plead guilty.]

As the date for the [December] seminar drew near, the gunman appeared before court and unexpectedly pleaded not guilty ….

The new dates of 11-12 March 1997 were then set…. In due course the offender appeared again before court and changed his plea to guilty thus allowing the seminar to proceed …

Most speakers arrived in Melbourne and were transported by bus to the Australian Emergency Management Institute for accommodation and meals. This Institute is 60 kilometres north of Melbourne.

The 20 or so speakers were the only persons present at the Institute and a great sense of comradeship built up over dinner and during that evening. [Rightee-ho]

Next morning the bus left AEMI at an early hour [for] Melbourne. The first day proceeded smoothly. Very few questions were asked by the audience of some 180 persons. [I wonder why….]

The President of the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament, Senator Stephen Parry

One of the contributors to the seminar papers is now serving in a leadership role in the Commonwealth Senate.  Senator the Hon Stephen Parry was born 1960 in Burnie, Tasmania. His electoral office is at 33 George St, Launceston TAS 7250. (Tel 1-300 760 788.)

He lists these varied jobs, including mortician, among the qualifications he had before entering politics:

*Graduation Certificate, Tasmania Police Academy.
*Certificate in Mortuary Science, College of Funeral Service.
*Police officer 1977-86
*Detective 1983-86
*Funeral director 1986-2004
*Embalmer 1995-2004
*President, Rotary Club of Ulverstone West from 1992-1993
*Member Surf Lifesaving Australia; Chief Instructor Burnie ’83
*National President, Australian Funeral Directors Association 2003
*Director, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce 2000-04.

At the time of the Port Arthur massacre, Stephen Parry was a a mortician in Tasmania.

On March 6, 2016 cairnsnews.org carried an article entitled “Senator’s report reveals prior knowledge of Port Arthur incident”. It talks about Keith Noble’s belief that Senator Stephen Parry had prior knowledge of the shootings.

The article states:

“Parry … led a team of embalmers which handled the bodies in 1996…. A paper written and presented in 1997 by Stephen Parry entitled ‘Port Arthur Massacre – AFDA National Embalming Team – Detailed Report’, appears in ‘PORT ARTHUR SEMINAR PAPERS… It clearly shows the incident that rocked a nation was planned.”

Senator Parry stated in his section of the Seminar Papers:

“I was particularly impressed by the quick response and initiatives by some of the team members in packaging and collecting equipment. The response time and the amount of equipment quickly relocated was fantastic.

One firm in particular … had organised for an embalming machine box and a special large equipment case to be manufactured ready for the incident. These two containers were the envy of all embalmers and worked extremely well.”

Startling, eh?

Keith Noble’s Innovative Action

In 2004, Parry was elected to the Australian Senate for the State of Tasmania as a member of the Liberal Party and has been reelected in 2010 and again this month in 2016.

On February 26, 2016, Keith Noble emailed a ‘Show Cause’ notice to the senator. It asked the former embalmer to show cause why he should not be accused of prior knowledge of the tragedy of April 28, 1996.

“Cairns News emailed senator Parry’s office with a copy of the notice but he had not responded at the time of going to print.

In furthering his moves to get Bryant out of gaol, Mr Noble told Cairns News there is an abundance of available evidence that the Tasmania Police refuse to acknowledge, clearly indicating Bryant is innocent.

“[John] Howard, who is also a qualified lawyer, spoke out to have Martin denied his legal rights and he never had proper legal representation and was kept in isolation for over six months. [Bryant’s]  lawyer at the time John Avery, who was convicted in 2008 for misappropriating and stealing $512,000, forced Martin to change his not guilty plea.”

Senator Parry in Federal Parliament

Stephen Parry has been in Canberra since 2004. His Committee service has included:

Environment, Communications and the Arts from 12.2.08 to 24.11.08; and  Legal and Constitutional Affairs from 8.2.07 to 11.2.08.

He served on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity from 23.3.07 to 1.7.14;  and on the Australian Crime Commission from 9.5.07 to 25.11.10; and on Law Enforcement from 25.11.10 to 1.7.14;

He was on a Joint Standing Committee for Migration from 1.7.05 to 17.10.07; and one on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade from 1.7.11 to 1.7.14.

He held the positions of Chief Opposition Whip in the Senate from 3.12.07 to 4.7.11, and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate from 2009 to 2010. He is now president of the Senate.

On page 165 of our book, Port Arthur: Enough Is Enough, Dee McLachlan and I noted

“As a leader in the Commonwealth legislature today he [Parry] will no doubt be pleased to give his recollections of that famous day. We invite every knowledgeable person to come forward. This will be a great time for Australia.”

Mary W Maxwell and Dee McLachlan are also co-authors of the 2015 book “Truth in Journalism.” They would like students of journalism to take an interest in writing for Gumshoe News.

Photo credit: Mary W Maxwell


  1. Ned, Derryn at least knows the story, I’ve clued him up on a great deal of the info available, as I am sure others have. I know Keith Noble has had a nibble at Derryn’s ear.
    Ned, glad to see you are still on board after all these years. Has been a long, long campaign.

  2. It goes to show how far from reality all of our politicians are, seeing that they refused to take action against Senator Parry prior to this last election, in which he should not have been allowed to again stand.

  3. Stats: Cherri Bonney’s petition has garnered 2,365 sigs (and please add yours, at Change.org) and “the fodder note” video has crossed the one-thousand barrier. The main message starts at 2.40 minutes.

    Note to Mrs Carleen Bryant if you are reading this website: don’t watch this video. Seriously, don’t.

C'mon Leave a Reply, Debate and Add to the Discussion