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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (31 May) . . Page.. 1356..


MS MacDONALD (continuing):

nation. His intransigence has created an impasse in the Australian psyche, allowing no room for forgiveness, healing or hope.

Mr Speaker, I agree with that statement. I think it sums up my concern and despair at the Prime Minister's inability to apologise to the stolen generations. In the time that I have been a member in this place, I have become more and more aware of the injustice, I suppose, in the fact that we have such a discrepancy between the standards of living between non-indigenous and indigenous Australians. I personally think that it is my duty, as well as every other elected member's duty, to ensure that we fix that up.

I know that there is an attitude amongst some within the federal government that it is practical reconciliation as opposed to the making of a statement of apology being what matters, but I think the two go hand in hand. While I do not believe that John Howard will ever change his opinion on this, I do hope that one day the federal government, of whatever political persuasion, is able to say, "We are sorry for the injustices that were caused to you in the past."

Minister for Education and Training

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.26): I note Ms MacDonald talked about the great attribute of admitting one's fallibility and owning up to when one has done the wrong thing. I would like to go back to the issues raised this morning, without reflecting on the vote in any way. Had I had the opportunity to conclude the debate I would have said these things then. The issues that arose this morning in relation to the motion of censure of Mr Barr were entirely of Mr Barr's making in that I think I had given him fairly ample opportunity to set the record straight.

He could have set the record straight. I made these notes this morning and I really feel that I should put them on the record. He could have come in here this morning and said, "Yesterday in question time I said such-and-such and Mrs Dunne has raised these issues with me and thinks that may not have been an accurate reflection of the issues. I have sought advice. I think that my version is correct."

However, because Mr Barr has done quite the right thing and said, "There is still some doubt and I am going to institute another inquiry and have this matter looked at again,"if he had come in here and said, "I am going to have this matter looked at again and I will get back to Mrs Dunne and, if necessary, the Assembly when that arises,"that would have been the end of the matter. It would have been the end of the matter because we could have got on civilly and dealt with the issues that we had on the day.

Mr Barr: When I said that in my speech you could have withdrawn the censure, Mrs Dunne, like the Chief Minister did.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Barr. Order!

Mr Barr: Sorry, Mr Speaker.


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