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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 8 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 2603..

Wednesday, 30 August 2000


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.



MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (10.34 ): Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Assembly reaffirms its support for the ongoing reconciliation process between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and supports the erection of signs:

(1) at each of the entrances to the ACT, acknowledging the traditional owners of this country; and

(2) observing the traditional titles of Canberra's prominent landmarks.

Mr Speaker, the Reconciliation Committee for the Australian Capital Region, at its last meeting, passed a motion in support of a proposal to have Canberra's landmarks signposted with their traditional names. This is an issue that I have been pursuing with some interest for the last two years, and I believe that such a gesture would facilitate the ongoing reconciliation process between indigenous and non-indigenous Canberrans. As you are aware, the ACT government and this Assembly have made a number of commitments over the years to the reconciliation process, but it behoves us as an assembly and as a community to take whatever action we can to demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation.

Recognising the traditional names for Canberra's landmarks on signposts is a practical and easy way, in my opinion, for the government to demonstrate its respect for indigenous cultural heritage and its commitment to the ongoing reconciliation process. Many towns and cities across Australia already acknowledge the indigenous titles of various local landmarks and signs. As the nation's capital, I feel that we should be leading the way in terms of demonstrating respect for Australia's indigenous cultural heritage. By observing the traditional titles of Canberra's landmarks through signposting, the ACT government would be demonstrating a concrete commitment to that process.

As we move around other parts of Australia we do notice an increasing tendency by councils and other jurisdictions to acknowledge the owners of the traditional lands across which we pass from time to time. I believe, therefore, that it would be appropriate to erect at each of the entrances to the ACT a sign acknowledging the traditional owners of this country, the Ngunnawal people. Such a practical and tangible gesture would be easy to organise in consultation with the Ngunnawal community in the ACT and would mean a lot to that community as well to other members of the indigenous community and the whole of the Canberra community.

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