Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3071 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
like the memorial, so much of Aboriginal history since white settlement is not known about. A suggestion from one of the speakers to help the reconciliation process and to remind Australians about the land's original occupants was for place name signs on city or shire limits to note the name of the traditional owners. This has apparently been done in some centres across New South Wales and I understand Queanbeyan is considering it too. Minister, could you tell the Assembly whether you would consider adopting this practice in the ACT? If so, would you ask your department to investigate having the signs on the ACT borders and city limits modified to include the names of the area's traditional owners?
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I guess the quick answer to Ms Tucker is no. We will not consider this, simply because I spoke to the Chief Minister this morning, straight after that very meeting, to suggest that we should do it and the Chief Minister has said that we will investigate it. Unfortunately, the majority of entrances to the ACT are controlled by designated land under the NCA, but I will be taking the matter up with the NCA soon.
Mr Speaker, it was a delightful gathering this morning on the slopes of Mount Ainslie. Ms Tucker attended with one of her staffers. One of my staff also attended. Warren Snowdon was there; Chris Schacht was there; Al Grassby, the former Minister, was there.
Al Grassby, in conjunction with another author, wrote a book called Six Australian Battlefields. Some of that looked at the little-known history of the conflict that occurred as European settlers arrived in Australia. At 12.30 today the second edition of Blood on the Wattle, a revised and much larger edition, was launched by Bruce Elder at Woden library. He would be finishing up his presentation about now. That book is quite a significant book. That book, Eric Willmot's story of Pemulwuy, and Mr Grassby's book Six Australian Battlefields certainly changed my perception of the relationship between the Aboriginal people and European Australians.
In his book Bruce has gone back through history and quite conclusively debunked the idea that terra nullius existed and the Aboriginal people simply acquiesced and gave their land over. The book is quite comprehensive. If members wanted something good to read over the Christmas break, I could certainly recommend it. He starts with Pemulwuy. Pemulwuy ran a 15-year guerilla war against the British. He saw them as invaders and he fought them until he was killed.
Of more importance to us are the Wiradjuri people, one of the largest tribes in Australia. Their traditional borders come down to near Yass and Goulburn. The Wiradjuri were so successful in their resistance against the British troops of the time that martial law was declared around Bathurst after the Aboriginal people cut it off from contact with Sydney. He tells the story of Yagan in the west and how he was killed by the early settlers.