Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 531 ..
MR OSBORNE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, many people make a lot of disparaging remarks about my involvement with football. When I was actually playing the game, they said that I was too slow. Now that I have finished playing the game and have entered politics, they paint me as being probably not as quick as others. Mr Speaker, I reject both charges. One person I met while playing rugby league, and one of my best mates, was Ricky Walford. He was an Aboriginal winger with me at St George. He is very well known. I recall the many times that I went to Walgett with him and stayed with his family there and had a terrific time. Ricky remains one of my closest friends, and when I say sorry today I am thinking about him and his family. I congratulate Ms Tucker for bringing this matter up. I am pleased that we as an Assembly will be supporting the motion as a whole.
MR HARGREAVES (10.49): I also rise to support comments made by previous speakers. Last night, at a function, I spoke to a young lady who had been born in Germany and had come to Australia when she was about three or four. She told me that she did not understand what the sorry thing was all about because she had lived with taunts and being called Hitler all the way through her school years. Really it had nothing to do with her. She was not here; her forebears were not here. When we spoke about it, a couple of things became very evident. When we talk about something - any subject at all - one of three things occurs: We are very happy with it, we could not care less about it, or we have a regret about it. We may not have an involvement, but we always have those three emotions. When we teach our kids about the things that they do wrong, we teach them to say sorry when they have hurt somebody else. It is not an admission of guilt; it is an expression of regret.
Mr Speaker, I am one of those people who were not born in this country, but I grew up around the country and I saw for myself the treatment of indigenous peoples. I can remember as a 12-year-old being appalled by it. In those days I felt a sense of shame. When I was looking at the Bringing them home report, that shame came back to me by the bucketload.
When we say sorry for something, it also has a hint of promise. It is a promise that whatever we have done will not happen again. There is a hint of positively moving forward. In that expression of contrition we also indicate that we have learnt a lesson. I would suggest that not enough people in this country have learnt a lesson from the Bringing them home report. I was listening very briefly last night to Father Brennan outside the High Court talking about this issue. He was saying that he would like to see the Federal Government make an expression of apology on behalf of us, because he could see the issue dragging on and on, and we would have to have an annual Sorry Day so that every year we would have to go back and say, "We are sorry that these events have occurred".
It would require one motion of contrition on the part of the Prime Minister to fix that up. We are not asking the Prime Minister to accept personal responsibility for these things. We are not asking the Prime Minister to say that his forebears were connected with them. What we are saying to the Prime Minister is, "Please make an expression of sorrow for sins in the past; make an expression of the sense of shame and the sense of hurt that all sensible people feel about this thing".