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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 907 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The tent embassy is a political entity protesting the legitimacy of the authority of the Commonwealth and, indeed, of the settlement of Australia by white people without treaty over 200 years ago. It is undoubted that the physical appearance of the tent embassy and its environs have created debate and some disquiet within sections of the community in recent times. However, those are issues that can be addressed, through consultation, discourse and discussion, by authorities in the ACT-certainly, by an institution as significant as the Liberal Party-rather than by this calling in the bulldozers approach. To simply bulldoze the tent embassy out of existence is the approach of the Liberal Party.

Mr Quinlan: Shame!

MR STANHOPE: It is shameful, for a number of reasons. One of the other reasons-

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order. The Chief Minister is not responsible for the Liberal Party, and it is impossible for him to comment. He was not at the meeting, and he does not know what motion was passed. He should either confine himself to the answer or sit down.

MR SPEAKER: The Chief Minister is responsible for indigenous affairs.

Mr Smyth: That was not the question. It was not about the Labor Party's indigenous policy.

MR STANHOPE: I was asked about comments made by the president of the Liberal Party of the ACT, and I am responding to them. The reported comments of the president of the Liberal Party on behalf of the Liberal Party are simply shameful-remarks that were later supported by other members of the Liberal Party and that echo comments that the Leader of the Opposition himself made on Stateline, which we are all aware of, that he has no sympathy or support for the tent embassy and that he wills it out of existence.

Many of us visit the tent embassy, as I do, and see there confronting us a most powerful symbol of the struggle of indigenous people for justice and the recognition of their rights and their place in the Australian community. That is what I see. I see a powerful symbol of the struggle of indigenous people for justice.

The Leader of the Opposition rolls up and, through his glasses, sees a mess-a group of black people having the temerity to put a political position. That is what the Liberal Party see, and their response to that is to seek to brush it out of existence, to swat it away. That is what the Liberal Party sees when it looks at the tent embassy and at the extent of indigenous disadvantage in this nation. That is its commitment to reconciliation. The most disturbing aspect of the approach the Liberal Party has adopted is that they continually come into this place spouting reconciliation, but their commitment to real reconciliation is reflected in their determination to wipe the tent embassy off the face of Canberra. It is truly shameful.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. What harm would the removal of the tent embassy cause to the reconciliation process?

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