Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2489 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
"What is the difference between ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and the impact of the white advance into the Australian continent?. One group with power moved in on another group without power and made them move on, sometimes by force, sometimes by violence. What is the difference?".
Australians expressed great sympathy to the Kosovars. We opened our country and our hearts to them. Do we offer the same sympathy even today to our Aboriginal population that was moved on? They did have to move on. I live in a house on land where once Aborigines walked without hindrance. I hope that there are differences. I reflect on what I said. Was the situation different 200-plus years ago? Was there a different culture? Were there different expectations? Indeed, there were. But some of these events have been very recent. Some of these events are in the memory of people who live today. Some of these events are in the experience of people who live today.
Are there differences - I am still asking myself what the differences are - or was it basically the same thing? There was violence with the European incursion, raid, invasion or settlement of Australia. We still argue around the country about whether we should ever use the word "invasion" in our textbooks. There was violence. It is recorded; there is no question of that. Hunting parties and the like were deliberately sent out. History records it. Of course, there were no TV cameras there to record it. There was nothing beamed onto television sets at night to show what happened to evince the sort of sympathy that we felt for the Kosovars; so we could only read about it, and then in poor detail. But we do know that many of the people who first lived here died by direct and deliberate assault, as well as dying by neglect or from the poor policies that were implemented over a long period.
I suppose I speak strongly. I have just finished reading a book by Professor Reynolds from Townsville. Why weren't we told? is the title of the book and he has gone into some of that history in more detail than is sometimes well known. We do know that very large numbers of Aborigines were assaulted and killed quite deliberately. They were moved on. There is a considerable record. Of course, it is still very incomplete, only a minor account of what did happen.
I do feel guilty and I responded strongly to the people who challenged me. I still ask the question, and now publicly: What is the difference? Those who occupy this land in Canberra and across Australia do have very strong obligations and we must take action and we must acknowledge that past and apologise for it. Our current leader, if I am right, commented that the Japanese never apologised for war atrocities. That may be a fair point. Focus on Australia, not just beyond Australia. Too often we cannot see where we may be in error, but can see very clearly where others may be in error. Let us move on. Let us acknowledge this need for reconciliation. I join the Assembly in taking that lead.
MR QUINLAN (12.01): Mr Speaker, I will be very brief. I have had the opportunity in recent years to spend some time outback, travelling through the Northern Territory, central and western Queensland and the north-west, and I have to say that the plight of some of the Aboriginals in Australia is quite obvious and the alienation of those people is quite obvious. It is, in fact, a quite depressing sight to wander around towns such as