Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 534 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
an act of real leadership on the part of ordinary citizens in our community and in Australia generally. It is their actions, their activities and their voice which have given strength to the process for reconciliation and for recognising the enormous harm and hurt done to members of the stolen generation.
I want to commend an enormous number of people today for the activities that have been occurring and continue to occur in Canberra and around Australia. Their voices are very much a sign of an active, healthy democracy where, if a government is not prepared to acknowledge the hurt that has been caused by past actions, at least the people are. That is a very hopeful sign. I commend Ms Tucker's motion to the house.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.05): Mr Speaker, I also would commend Ms Tucker for bringing this motion to the house. I support it heartily. It was curious to see last night on the television some of the Aboriginal community, particularly around Botany Bay, explaining that this is not about guilt or about laying blame but about the acknowledgment of past wrongs and that, with that acknowledgment, we could truly bring home the memory of what was done and help lay it to rest - never forget it, but certainly help lay it to rest.
The Sorry Day that we celebrate today highlights simply one of the tragedies that have occurred since European settlement of Australia. There are many others that we should also be aware of. I have a hope that in the future Sorry Day could well be a day when perhaps we bring home the lost history of the Aboriginal people in total since European settlement. It is curious that the motto of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, is "Doctrina vim promovet", which is "Knowledge is strength". I think we, as a community, as a nation, can draw great strength from those things that we know about.
I think there is still a lot that we do not acknowledge in regard to the history of the Aboriginal people since 1788. I would hope that Sorry Day becomes a day when we start to tell all of these stories, not just those about the stolen generation but indeed those about how the Aboriginal people and the Torres Strait Islander people have lived and what has occurred to them since European settlement. Knowledge is power, and from that empowerment comes understanding. Until we understand how they lived and until we understand their civilisation and their society, it is impossible for us to come to grips with the way that they take their place in our modern society.
Before the stolen generation, the lost generation, was discussed, my understanding, certainly as a schoolchild, was that right from day one of the arrival of the First Fleet the Aboriginal people acquiesced and we were given this land, almost gratefully; that there were not that many of them and therefore it did not matter. What is important to get onto the record and start talking about is some of what Mr Osborne referred to when he mentioned the black armband view of history. History is a curious thing. The victors normally get to write the history. In writing modern Australian history up to the early 1970s, I think we totally emasculated the role of Aboriginal people in our history.
One of the reasons that we have a lack of respect for Aboriginal culture - certainly, this was my experience as a boy growing up in the 1960s - is that we were not taught about it and that for many of us it simply did not exist. If you asked people of my generation who their heroes were when they were children, I think you would find that we knew more