Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 8 Hansard (11 August) . .
In 2017 we will also mark 25 years since the Mabo decision in 1992 when the High Court of Australia declared that terra nullius should never have been applied to Australia and also legally recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander native title rights.
I propose that we do not let these significant anniversaries go by without proper recognition. I propose that the ACT government plan celebrations to take place in 2017 for the anniversaries of these past achievements. As one community consultation respondent noted:
A day like this will enable us to reflect on what is being done and what needs to be done to improve the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are treated in this country. It will enable a reduction in prejudice and discrimination to increase the public awareness of the difficulties that they face, based on their heritage, culture and identity.
This is also particularly important as we move towards a referendum for recognition, and it would allow for discussion on this sort of topic.
Establishing a Reconciliation Day public holiday in 2018 as well as the authentic celebration of the anniversaries in 2017 of these historic achievements will be an opportunity to progress the Canberra community's journey along the path to reconciliation. I invite members of this Assembly to join me in this act of reconciliation and recognition and call upon the ACT government to work with the Canberra community to establish a Reconciliation Day in 2018 and plan community celebrations in 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the High Court's Mabo decision.
MR WALL (Brindabella) (5.31): The opposition are largely supportive of the intent of Dr Bourke's motion brought here today, and we will be supporting his motion. But in doing so we would also like to put on the record our way forward; what we see as the process between here and 2018 for this public holiday to be enacted.
First, I think it is important to note that in the ACT there are, for 2017, 14 gazetted public holidays and the addition of any new holidays would place a disproportionate burden on those who operate businesses within the ACT. Balancing that with the importance of recognising the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to our community by having a holiday in lieu of one of the existing public holidays is a good solution.
I note Dr Bourke's comments in this place previously and also the discussion paper's consultation broadly on two days being considered in place of an enacted Reconciliation Day holiday, namely the Queen's Birthday holiday and the Family and Community Day holiday, and I think there is a very simple choice to be made as to which would be the more appropriate moving forward. The intention of creating a Reconciliation Day holiday is to bring our community together and to share and recognise the contribution that all Australians make to this place. Family and Community Day, in the opposition's view, is the logical choice.
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