Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 536 ..
MR QUINLAN (11.13): Mr Speaker, I also would support the motion. I also played a little bit of football with quite a number of Aboriginal players, and let me tell you that there is a lot of talent and a lot of sporting talent that Australia draws upon from the Aboriginal race. One in particular I will mention. I had the rare privilege of playing old men's football, super rules, with one Syd Jackson. I venture to say that in his day he was even more talented than the majestic Ricky Walford whom Ossie played with, and played a better type of football. Syddy was no angel, let me say, but he was a great bloke. He had a very agile body and a very agile mind. He was a great ambassador for his race and eventually for Australia as he represented us overseas.
I have had some tangential contact with Aboriginals through respite care, and in that time I was very impressed to see how they would take care of their own. At the same time, I was equally perturbed to see the suspicion and reticence with which Aboriginal people viewed external involvement in their personal or family affairs. That is something we have to address. We have a long way to go in the process of inclusiveness in Australian society. I do not mean just inclusiveness in our society. We need to restructure our society so that, in fact, Aboriginals and people from other races are automatically included and we are included in society as they view it. I see Sorry Day as being merely a very small step towards creating a society in which we are equal and a society which is based on the experiences of all our people and not just ours.
MR WOOD (11.15): Mr Speaker, it is a very good and sound concept that we should say sorry. Therefore, I am happy to support Ms Tucker's motion. As proud citizens, we all take account of what has been done in the name of our nation over the years. We must acknowledge that in that there is a lot of good, of course - and that is what we tend to focus on most - but there is also a great deal that was not so good and there is a great deal that was simply bad. We must take account of all of that. I was at a gathering not so long ago when people were proudly displaying the national flag and I was asked, "Do you feel guilty; do you feel sorry?", as though I should not. It has often been asked why a person should feel guilty for something that has happened in the past. I do feel guilty. I do feel for what has happened in the past. I feel for those people whose circumstances are not so good - circumstances very much beyond their control, circumstances inflicted following European settlement in this country.
We are proud to wave a flag. If we are proud to claim to be Australian, let us acknowledge some of the worst things that have happened in our nation. As our children grow up we train them to acknowledge that they are sorry, yet there still seems to be a reluctance in some parts of Australia to acknowledge sorrow for deeds in the past. In acknowledging that sorrow here in this place and broadly, we should take steps to make amends for what has happened, to improve the circumstances of the people affected, particularly the Aborigines, on whom we focus today. Part of that sorrow is actively to seek reconciliation. Let us do it, and let us continue each year to reflect on that so that it will not be too long, we hope, before the circumstances of the Aboriginal and Islander community in Australia are very much better than they have been over recent years.