An outstanding Western Australian, Dr Ern Manea died last night after a short illness. Born on 23rd December 1926, Dr Manea was 86 years old.
Contribution to his beloved city of Bunbury
Born at Albany on the southwest tip of Western Australia in 1926, Ernest Cosmo Manea went to local Primary and High Schools before graduating Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and Bachelor of Surgery (BS) at Perth and Adelaide Universities. He was later a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners (FRCGP).
Establishing a medical career and medical centre at 26 years of age in the nearby big country city of Bunbury in 1952, Dr. Manea met his wife Beulah that same year at Royal Perth Hospital, where she worked as a nurse.
He became involved in the local business and political worlds of Bunbury, later becoming Mayor firstly in 1966-1972 and again in 1988. During his time as Mayor, Bunbury Town Council was selected as the most efficient and progressive local authority in Western Australia. Bunbury also won the Tidy Town Competition twice.
In the three decades 1960-90 Dr. Manea was appointed Director of South West Development and Regional authorities, Chairman of St John's Hospital, and community representative on the WA Technical Education Board. He also became a member of the AMA State Council, and Foundation President of the Bunbury Arts Promotional Council, as well as participating at a high level in many service and planning organizations in the Bunbury region.
As a highly popular Mayor of Bunbury his views on politics and planning were frequently sought by the various Premiers and Ministers of the State Governments of the day.
His appointments included membership of the WA Government Committee of Inquiry into Rates and Taxes, plus Regional Planning and Development Committees. Dr. Manea was selected as the first elected member of Local Government to address the Institute of Municipal Administration in Canberra.
In 2001 the newly elected MLA for Bunbury Tony Dean, in his inaugural speech, said - "without doubt, the major political giant of Bunbury in the past 30 years has been Ern Manea, a politician of such stature and skill that he has remained aloof from the party political process."
" I had the pleasure to serve three years as a councillor with Ern Manea when he was Mayor of Bunbury. He is a remarkable man with an intellect as big as his ambitions for the seat of Bunbury".
Earlier in 1954 Dr. Manea had become locally involved in the youth sporting community of Bunbury on committees and became President of the Bunbury District Junior Football Association in 1961.
This later extended in 1965 to Presidency of the Bunbury Sports Youth Foundation, and his involvement in organizing an annual charity football match brought many celebrities to town, including Melbourne's Ron Barassi and Adelaide's Neil Kerley.
Other positions he held were Board Member of Bunbury Institute of Advanced Education, Chairman of the Board of Western Broadcasting Services PL, and Chairman of the Board St John of God Hospital in Bunbury.
In the Australia Day Honours list of 1985 Dr Manea was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to his community of Bunbury and to Local Government.
He was further honoured in June 1998 with an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to the community of Bunbury, to Local Government, to Regional Planning and Development and to the Harness Racing Industry.
In 2006, Dr Manea's wife Beulah was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for he service to the community of Bunbury through conservation, health, welfare and sporting organisations.
As Mayor of Bunbury Dr Manea was a leader in many initiatives including a Sister City Agreement with Setagaya City in Japan.
In November 1994, as Mayor, he signed a major commitment with the local Nyungar to work together and recognize their rights and histories - only the second of such commitments in Australia.
He became closely associated with Bunbury senior football as President of the South Bunbury Football Club in 1961, graduating the same year to President of the Bunbury District Football Association.
Earlier on in his football administration days he and his wife Beulah had taken in and raised an aboriginal teenager called Syd Jackson who developed into a star footballer for the South Bunbury FC and later moved to Melbourne where he became a notable player with the leading club of those days - Carlton.
In 1997 the Ohio House of Representatives (USA) awarded Ern Manea a Special Recognition Certificate.
His contribution as a member of the Rotary Club of South Bunbury for many years was noted in 1996 with his being made a Paul Harris Fellow.
He was already a Fellow of the Edith Cowan University, a University that he was prime mover for its establishment when Mayor of Bunbury years earlier.
Contribution to his more beloved industry of harness racing
In his student days in Adelaide Dr Manea had frequently attended harness racing at the Wayville Track in Adelaide and then later, when a medical officer at Royal Perth Hospital, he attended patients from nearby Gloucester Park harness racing accidents.
On setting up medical practice in Bunbury he loaned one of his patients the cost of a service fee to a local pacing sire and when the patient could not repay he was given the resultant foal. Seemingly the harness racing industry was beckoning him into the sport - and it is an interest that continued up until his passing.
Becoming the owner of several pacers he founded the Marden Stud Farm in the 1950's, just south of Bunbury, standing several imported stallions and at one time owning twenty one brood mares.
His best horse in those times was the smart pacer Marden Miss which won a Bunbury Cup driven by his son Dennis. Dr Manea later bred and raced Mighty Michael, a high class Gloucester Park winner.
Dr. Manea joined the WA Trotting Association at Gloucester Park in the mid 1960's and was co-opted on to the Committee in 1978 to help resolve disputes within the Committee. In a similar timeframe, he joined the Bunbury Trotting Club, and was elected as President in 1980.
In 1979 (until 1987) he became President of the WATA a move which led to Presidency of the Australian Harness Racing Council from 1984 until 2000 and the Inter Dominion Harness Racing Council from 1987 until 2000.
From 1991 until 1993 Dr Manea served a term as President of the International Trotting Association (ITA) and became a long term attendee at the bi-annual World Trotting Conferences.
During this period Dr. Manea was elected a Member of the Racecourse Development Trust and the Totalisator Agency Board.
In 1992 the AHRC acknowledged Dr. Manea with the JP Stratton Award, the highest Australian Standardbred Industry award.
This was for his Leadership, Significant Achievement, Foresight, Initiative on a national and international basis over a significant period of time warranting national recognition by the harness racing industry.
Dr Manea was inducted into The West Australian Racing Industry Hall of Fame in 2010 in recognition of a lifetime of contribution to harness racing as a breeder, owner and administrator.
In 1997 the International Trotting Association confirmed his contribution to international trotting affairs by awarding him Life
In 2000, on completion of his Presidency and handover to Mr. Tony McGrath, the IDHRC awarded him its Gold Medal, and renamed the award the - Ern Manea Inter Dominion Gold Medal.
One of the many tributes at the time of his retirement from the World body came from The United States Trotting Association and it seems particularly appropriate at the time of his passing.
"Dr. Manea has not only been a leader in Australia, but is equally respected and recognised on a world-wide level. Ern Manea IS harness racing around the world, and he will be missed more than he may realize.
With a heavy heart we farewell a good friend."
Assistant Manager - Harness Racing