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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 527 ..

Tuesday, 26 May 1998


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.


MS TUCKER (10.32): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move a motion regarding National Sorry Day.

Leave granted.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That this Assembly acknowledges and supports National Sorry Day, as recommended by the Bringing them home Report.

I rise today in support of National Sorry Day, which was recommended by the Bringing them home report. Sorry Day will acknowledge and honour the stolen generations whose stories need to be told and heard. Sorry Day will be a time of sorrow for pain, wrongs and loss. Sorry Day will celebrate the Bible, healing and the beginning of new understanding and call for commitment to reconciliation, with justice between all Australians.

Mr Speaker, this is the time for us to take responsibility for reconciliation and justice and not just leave it for future generations to deal with. In this place, as an Assembly and a parliament, we have already apologised for the wrongs that have been done to our indigenous people. We have made strong statements in support of reconciliation. We have, standing in our parliament, flags of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We have obviously, as a parliament, made strong statements towards reconciliation. Today is the first National Sorry Day. I believe that this is the first of such days forever into the future. What we are doing by acknowledging, once a year, the stolen generation report is participating in an ongoing process of healing. This is a process whereby not only are we sorry, but also we are hopeful, we are positive and we know that we can move towards a just relationship with our indigenous people. I believe that all members of this Assembly are in support of such a motion.

I must say that this morning, while I was listening to the radio and reflecting on where we have come as a country, I was disappointed, as most Australians would be, in John Howard's response to this issue. I believe that, as a nation, we are showing compassion, wisdom and maturity by embracing in such a broad way the concept of Sorry Day. It is definitely a symbol of hope and we can move on from this point.

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