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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 540 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

It is entirely appropriate that we have a National Sorry Day, and I think it is entirely appropriate that Ms Tucker has brought this motion to the Assembly. I am pleased to have this opportunity to stand with other members and say sorry.

MS TUCKER (11.34), in reply: Thank you, members, for supporting the motion. It is obviously something everyone is very supportive of and feels strongly about. In conclusion, I would like to pick up something that Mr Smyth raised, because I agree wholeheartedly. Probably the best way to explain the list of things that we need to acknowledge and be sorry for is to look at the eight key issues of reconciliation. Within those eight key issues you can see what needs to be acknowledged. The eight key issues are basically all about knowledge.

The first issue is understanding the importance of the land and the sea in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies. We obviously need to be sorry for the way we have not done that. We have the opportunity to say strongly how we feel we can redress the past injustices there, with the Wik debate still going on. The second issue of reconciliation is the knowledge of relationships between indigenous people and the wider community. Obviously, the fact that children were taken from their homes to "improve their cultural identity" and to make them "better Australians" fits into this issue. The third issue is knowledge of indigenous culture and recognising it as a valued part of our Australian heritage. Only recently has that started to happen. We need to be sorry that it has taken so long.

The fourth issue is knowledge of our history. A number of speakers have mentioned that. We need to be very sorry about how history has not been truthful. It has not acknowledged the incredibly terrible injustices that have occurred in our history. The fifth issue is knowledge about the degree of disadvantage. It is about debunking our myths. It is about standing up to Pauline Hanson. It is about saying that Aboriginal people are still extremely disadvantaged and are still suffering. The sixth issue is responding to the custody issues of indigenous people and the law. We still have a lot to be sorry about there. The seventh issue is about what sort of document we should have. There is ongoing discussion about it and we have to be open to it. Do we have a treaty as well as an apology? The eighth issue is about controlling destiny and knowledge. Obviously, it is horrific how little control our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had over their destiny. We still have much to be concerned about there.

Saying sorry is part of changing the story. If as well as saying sorry we look at those eight key issues of reconciliation and support them with policy and with individual action as members of the community, then the sorry will be very constructive and lead to changes. Patrick Dodson described his vision for the new story that we should all be heading towards. It is for "a united Australia which represents this land of ours, values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, and provides justice and equity for all".

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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