Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . .
We in the Canberra Liberals today stand on the shoulders of all his hard work to set us up in those early days. The party as we know it was built on his efforts and those of other members crucial at that beginning period in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We are truly thankful and grateful for his efforts.
I pay tribute to Bert and his wife, Dorothy, and their two children and grandchildren and thank them for their hard work and self-sacrifice to help shape Canberra into the great city we know and love.
Closing the gap
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (6.04): Tomorrow will mark the anniversary of the apology to Australia's Indigenous peoples made by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2008. While the day will be one of celebration and reflection, it is also a reminder to all Australians that reconciliation is an ongoing process which relies on a sustained commitment from all of us. It not only involves the symbolic and historical recognition of Australia's first peoples; it must also embody a commitment to equality in all aspects of life.
In his speech Kevin Rudd spoke about how the national apology should be used as a foundation for a new Australia that embraces the dignity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and works to alleviate the gaps in opportunity and standard of living which persist. The apology was a watershed moment, but at the time we acknowledged that words were not enough. We acknowledged that real and lasting healing would take time and would require ongoing support.
In the closing the gap report released this week by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, this reality is clearer than ever. In life expectancy, early childhood education, school education and employment outcomes, Australia is not meeting the targets which have been set. In some areas we are going backwards.
In the Prime Minister's own words, the report is profoundly disappointing. While money is not everything, it is pretty clear that cuts to essential services on the scale made by the commonwealth are having an impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Prime Minister has again stated his commitment to turning these indicators around. I urge the commonwealth to revisit these funding decisions as part of that undertaking.
Since being appointed ACT Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, I have had very positive discussions with representatives of Canberra's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Today I visited a community forum held by the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, facilitated by Professor Mick Dodson, to explore community attitudes around progress towards constitutional recognition. Members of the elected body volunteer large amounts of their time working for Canberra's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and I look forward to working with them in progressing important local issues.
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