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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2493 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I wish to make perfectly clear on behalf of our people that we wish to accept no condition of inferiority as compared with European people. Two distinct civilisations are represented by the respective races...That the European people by the arts of war destroyed our more ancient civilisation is freely admitted and that by their vices and diseases our people have been decimated is also patent, but neither of these facts are evidence of superiority. Quite the contrary is the case. Furthermore, I may refer, in passing, to the fact that your present scheme of Old Age Pensions was obtained from our ancient code, as likewise your Child Endowment Scheme and Widows Pensions. Our divorce laws may yet find a place on the Statute Book. The members of this Board (AAPA) have also noticed strenuous efforts of the Trade Union leaders to attain the conditions which existed in our country at the time of the invasion by Europeans - the men only worked when necessary - we called no man "Master" and we had no "King".

I think Fred's words are as relevant today as they were when he made those statements many years ago. Mr Wood, in his comments, went on to refer to Henry Reynolds' excellent publication, Why weren't we told? The reason we were not told was simply that the victors get to write the history. Throughout history that has always been the case. Particularly from 1838 onwards there was a shift in what was published in Australian newspapers, which simply did not refer to what was going on at the frontier.

I had the pleasure not too long ago of launching a book by a Canberra author, Judith Monticone, called Healing the land. In that Judith has gone back through quite an extensive array of journals and found some 1,200 sites where atrocities or great sadness occurred. Of that, I think something like 50 sites were where more than 100 Aboriginal people were killed and in several of those sites it was well past the 500 mark. The reason we were not told was, I think, that we simply wished to forget.

But that is not happening. People such as Evelyn Scott and her Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation are doing a tremendous job and should be congratulated. It is with great pleasure that I stand to support this motion. I am very pleased that everyone, all sides of the Assembly, is behind the motion. I think it is great that a territory such as the ACT can speak with one voice on such an issue and really be an example to all the other jurisdictions that if we do work together we can make progress. I am delighted to support the motion and delighted to bring back to life in this place the words of Fred Maynard.

Question resolved in the affirmative.




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