Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2565 ..
That the Assembly do now adjourn.
MR BERRY:(5.55): Mr Speaker, this morning, during the reconciliation debate, I was pleased to hear that the members who spoke were making a positive contribution to reconciliation throughout Australia. This debate has attracted much attention recently, particularly in relation to the refusal of the Prime Minister to say he was sorry, but also some time ago as well. I was pleased to hear Mr Humphries taking a positive position in relation to the reconciliation debate, but I wonder now whether he regrets what he said about this matter in 1993 when he drew attention to a view that backyards in the ACT might be in danger. I see from the Canberra Times reports at the time that an opinion piece said this:
Mr Humphries should take a long walk around Canberra's suburbs to see if there is any evidence of continuous Aboriginal attachment to the land. As he goes he should re-read Brennan's judgment, re-read the Self-Government Act and read that classic nursery rhyme about unnecessary fear which goes something like: "As I was going down the stair I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today. I wish that man would go away".
Mr Speaker, I am happy to see that Mr Humphries has come a long way in relation to reconciliation. In 1993 I was a critic of Mr Humphries' position because of the inflammatory nature of it. I know that Mr Humphries thinks that his view has probably been enshrined in some legislative method along the way; but, notwithstanding, nobody ever made those sorts of inflammatory remarks. I raise this merely to draw attention to the fact that people can change sometimes.
Mr Humphries is a man of some commitment to whatever his ideology is, and I am very pleased to have listened to his remarks this morning because I think they reflect probably a major turnaround in attitudes to this issue. At the time I recall being quite angry about his position, and others were as well. I suspect it caused some angst out in the community. At the end of the day we all have to come to grips with this quite pressing matter which I know is not going to be resolved in the near future, but it can only be helped when people grow to understand the issues, as I suspect Mr Humphries has.
MR OSBORNE (5.58): I want to raise two things briefly, Mr Speaker. I have noticed during my time in Canberra, and especially in the Assembly, that various Health Ministers have had problems with the VMOs. Mr Berry, in particular, had a running battle with them. A friend of mine is a VMO and the one thing he keeps saying to me is: