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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1424 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

them home inquiry. They will then refer their findings to the local indigenous community and then present them to the ACT community. I commend this work and encourage all members of the Assembly to make a contribution to this process. I also encourage and ask the Government to cooperate with this process and indicate their progress in implementing the recommendations of this landmark inquiry as a commitment to healing past wrongs and as a commitment to the reconciliation process.

Preschool Sandpits

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (6.26): Recently there was some concern in relation to preschool sandpits. I sought information from the ACT Environment Management Authority. They advise that they are satisfied that the application of the chemicals used during routine spraying of preschools in the April school holidays - that is, roundup and simazine - is in accordance with Environment ACT's policies and the manufacturers' recommendations. Their further advice is that the concentrations of the chemicals remaining in the soil are very low, even for the spraying which occurred in the April 1999 school holidays.

A medical opinion sought from the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the Canberra Hospital was that the acute risk of toxicity to children from exposure to simazine sprayed on the sandpits is negligible. The hospital advised that, for the simazine sprayed in April 1999, a child would need to eat one kilogram of sand to ingest 0.3 milligrams of simazine - the lethal dose being 5,000 milligrams per kilo of body weight. Sand in the three affected preschool sandpits has been replaced. Expert evidence has shown that all other preschools are safe. Fencing has been removed from all other sandpits and all preschool sandpits have been reopened.

Journey of Healing

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (6.28): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I rise today also in support of the Journey of Healing 1999 and National Reconciliation Week, commencing on 26 May. Since the release of the Bringing them home and deaths in custody reports, governments around Australia have commenced the implementation of a range of policies in an attempt to redress past wrongs. Much has been said in this Assembly about the need to recognise and acknowledge the injustices that have resulted from past forced removal policies. The theme for this year's National Reconciliation Week is "Reconciliation - it's up to us".

I would like to touch briefly today on what we as individuals and politicians can do to facilitate the reconciliation process and the importance of us actually remaining involved in this debate and this process. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation has a vision. The vision is:

A united Australia which respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all.

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