Page 2760 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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relation to reconciliation, a refusal to support self-determination—in a real sense, a building of capacity within indigenous communities—we will be having this same debate year after year.

So we need to get to the heart. We need to acknowledge the causes of these behaviours, the basis of this despairing behaviour and the extent of the issues around substance abuse. To do that, we need to step back; we need to commit ourselves again and again and again to reconciliation. We need to understand what is it that we mean by reconciliation and we need to honestly, fully declare ourselves committed to reconciliation; we need to commit to all of the incidents of reconciliation, including an acknowledgment and a commitment to self-determination and a right for indigenous people to accept responsibility and authority for the decision making that will address those 200 years of dispossession and disadvantage that have led us to the position we are at today.

Until we do it openly and honestly, it seems to me we are doomed to continue to debate this particular subject year after year after year. If we do not get down to taws as a nation and as individual human beings and make that commitment, then it seems to me that we are not addressing this issue at the cause; we are continually addressing the consequences of other behaviours and other issues; and we will never get there.

It is in that context that the government has committed to the establishment of an Aboriginal justice centre, and it is in that context that the government has committed to circle sentencing. It is in that context that this government has committed to explore openly and fully a process for achieving a degree of self-determination, post ATSIC. We do need to understand more fully and more sensitively than we have been prepared to debate or discuss the implications for Aboriginal people of the abolition of ATSIC and of ATSIC regional councils.

In one fell swoop we have cut off at the knees a growing aspiration and hope for self-determination reflected through ATSIC and reflected through the capacity of Aboriginal people to elect their leaders. We, I believe, have dealt the most dreadful body blow to those hopes, to that aspiration and to the leadership that has been nurtured through ATSIC and ATSIC regional councils that would assist indigenous people in leading themselves out of some of these dreadful incidents of a loss of sense of culture that we experience today.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): The Chief Minister’s time has expired.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (4.58): Before the Chief Minister rose to his feet, this was quite a sensible debate and I think we had taken quite a bipartisan approach. I would congratulate all those other members that took that approach. But the Chief Minister had to hop onto his hobbyhorse and attempt to blame other people.

But what we are talking about here today is, of course, the ACT. And let us look at the Chief Minister’s record. When he came to office he was the first health minister. In the lead-up to the 2001 election, this government, this minister, promised a couple of dual-diagnosis workers for the Aboriginal community, in recognition of the fact that

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