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Members’ biographical register

William Robert Withers

Date: 8 August 1931
Place: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Son of Robert Stephen Withers, butcher and professional gambler, and Elsie Mary McPharland
Marriage and Family
Married 3 July 1954, Werribee, Victoria to Judith May Wakefield, daughter of Harry Hewson and Vivienne May Chautem
Children: one son and two daughters
Educated Kogarah Primary School 1937–1943, Sydney Technical High School 1944–1947
RAAF School of Technical Training—trade proficiency certificate 1948–1950
RAAF School of Air Navigation 1951–1952—Air Navigation Certificate and RAN Anti-Submarine School 1953
Successfully completed extension courses in jewellery trades 1963–1988 in Sydney and Brisbane also in permaculture
Employment History
Fishing and tourist guide 1947–1948
Joined Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 2 February 1948
Apprentice air frame fitter 1948–1951 aircrew trainee, navigator, commissioned 1951–1956
RAAF Reserve from 1957
Experimental flying with Aircraft Research and Development Unit RAAF–CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) 1956–1964, senior cloud seeding officer
Partner in general store, Withers and Young, Kununurra 1964–1965
Worked on garbage disposal for a time
Proprietor Ford dealership (Messmate Motors), panel shop, BP Ord River Service Station Kununurra 1965–1966
Proprietor Djaaru Gems (later Nina’s Jewellery), jewellery and gift shop, Kununurra 1966–1971
Established Ord River Hairdressers and Beauty Salon 1966, Ord River newsagency March 1968, Cinderella Toys and Shoe Shop September 1968
Incorporated Kafupi Mining August 1970
Established Tropical Farm on Ord River (sold September 2002) and developed Organic Survival Unit
After leaving Parliament established Tropp Bar (confections and juice) 1983 and Worm-a-Culture
Proprietor Kimberley Diamonds (later Ord Diamonds), designed and manufactured jewellery from Argyle diamonds, member Panel of Argyle Diamond Ltd distributors
Proprietor Tropical Souvenirs
Owner Ord River Mango orchard
Local Government Service
Wyndham–East Kimberley Shire Council 1965–1971; deputy president 1966–1971
Consultative Councillor for Kimberley 1966–1971; Reserves Advisory Board 1969–1971
Joined party September 1970 four days before endorsement
Independent Liberal May 1981–May 1982—resigned over issue of electoral redistribution affecting Kimberley and Pilbara seats
Date Elected
22 May 1971
Inaugural Speech
Inaugural Video
Search for speeches by William Withers
Year Retired/Resigned
Parliamentary Service
  • MLC North Province 22 May 1971–21 May 1982 (resigned)

  • Member Library Committee 1977–29 September 1982
Member CSIRO Technical Officers’ Association
Member Chamber of Commerce (president April 1965) and Rare Fruits Council
Director EJ Withers & Co, WA Coloured Diamond Syndicate until 1988
Chairman Ord Diamonds Pty Ltd and proprietor Nina’s Jewellery until moved to Perth
Justice of the Peace and Hon Magistrate Children’s Court 1966–1980
Chairman Ethics Committee King Edward Memorial Hospital
Chairman Mirriuwun/Gajerrong Respondent Group in Federation and High Courts
Member executive Lions Club
Trustee Kununurra Kindergarten
Chairman East Kimberley Secondary Education Board
Inaugural Chairman Kimberley College of TAFE (Technical and Further Education) 1994–1995
Singer in Perth Male Voice Choir
President Lake Kununurra Golf Club 1984–1986 and Ord River Sports Club
Member Nedlands Golf Club, Royal Tanjung Pinang Yacht Club
Vice-president Berowra Bowling Club

Competed in rifle shooting at state level and numerous sports at club level including golf, bowls, rugby league, boxing (RAAF welterweight championship)
Singer and actor in various musical comedy productions eg
Oklahoma, Magyar Melody and Rose Marie
Landscape painter, won various competitions
Commissioned to design and make various pieces of jewellery under Royal and State patronage
  • The Ord Adventures of Barra Bill and Katy Katfish
  • How Well Intentioned Governments Strangle the Development of a Nation
  • Frontier Dreaming
  • Was It Murder (novel)
  • A Man’s Secret Sex Life (novel)
  • Safari (novelette)
22 bound volumes of papers, essays, manuscripts and letters located in the Battye Library
Paintings in Parliament House, National Bank and other collections
Retired to Victoria Park in 2002
Moved into the Collier Park Retirement Village, Como, 2007
D Black and G Bolton, eds, Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia: volume two 1930-2010, Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Perth, WA, 2011, p. 284-285.
Transcript of interview with Ron Chapman, 2004 (State Library and WA Parliament Library)
West Australian, 7 April 1982.
Who's Who in Australia, (1977)
Withers, William Robert, Oral History 2007.pdfWithers, William Robert, Oral History 2007.pdf