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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 535 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

about Cochise and Geronimo and about the Sioux and the Arapaho than we did about Aboriginal heroes like Pemulwuy, Windradyne, Yagan and Jandamarra - people who in their own way defended their homeland with as much strength and vigour as we would defend modern Australia.

I think Sorry Day could well become a day when we tell all the stories. I would certainly like it to become a day when we acknowledge the lost generations and the stolen generations but also put everything into context and ensure that the stories are told that the Iora tribe around Sydney did not give Governor Phillip the land, and that the Wiradjuris in about 1824 caused martial law to be declared in Bathurst because the Aboriginal tribes had cut the town of Bathurst off from the rest of the colony. The majority of us do not know these stories. These stories are not told. I do not know how well they are taught in our schools.

There is a part of our history that we are missing. I think that for all of us as a nation Sorry Day is about that part of us which is missing and about making us a complete nation. That complete nation can come about only when we fully understand what has occurred. I get back to where I started. Sorry Day is not about laying guilt; it is not about laying blame. It is about acknowledging what actually went on in the past. I am sure that members here would have all seen the film Zulu, in which we saw the African tribesmen come storming out of the hills and the British hold them off with their superior weaponry. There are places in Australia where that happened, most notably Battle Mountain north of Cloncurry, where in the 1880s mounted troopers went into the hills to weed out the pests that the Aboriginals were seen to be. The Aboriginal tribe, I think the Kalkadoons, not only stood their ground but fought back and indeed almost carried the day. These are some of the other stories. I think Sorry Day is a day when we could take the opportunity to put into focus the great love that the Aboriginal people have for this country that we now all call Australia.

For me, Sorry Day is very important. I think it is a very powerful day. It is a day that helps build a better nation. It is a day that will help build a great nation in time. We need to look at this one particular period in Australian history, this one tragedy of the stolen generation; but then I think we need to go beyond it and look at the other tragedies that occurred. We need to put it all into perspective and then, as a nation, use that to move forward. I have absolutely no problem in saying sorry. If somebody, such as a little kid, falls over and scrapes their knee, you say, "Sorry, darling. Sorry that you hurt yourself". I think all parents do that. As a Territorian, I acknowledge those in the former Assembly who took the action they did and formally apologised. I would salute you for your courage in doing that. Today, the first Sorry Day, we have an opportunity to lay a sound foundation based on knowledge, not on discrimination and prejudice, as we come to an understanding of how we got here by the paths and the roads that we have travelled and together use those paths and roads combined to create a much better society.

To the stolen generation, to those lost children, I say sorry. In the future I hope that we would never forget them; that we would always acknowledge them. I hope that in years to come we use this day to bring home the other lost histories, the other tragedies that we seem to ignore - I think through lack of knowledge, not ignorance - and that we use Sorry Day as a wonderful day to build a better Canberra, a better community, a better society and a better nation.

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