Page 2038 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 21 June 2011

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Great cities include public art as an integral part of the urban landscape. The diversity of works—in style, theme and scale—engages citizens and visitors with their urban surroundings and enhances their experience of the city. In Canberra through public art we can enjoy the works of some of Australia’s best Indigenous artists. I personally applaud the role of contemporary public art to engage, delight, and question.

I am proud to have been elected during Reconciliation Week, the first Indigenous member of the ACT Legislative Assembly. It is an important event not just for Canberra’s Indigenous community but also for the half a million Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia who continue to be underrepresented in our democracy. It is the opportunity to provide an Indigenous perspective in the Assembly.

For me the purpose of reconciliation is nation building. In 1788 this country was invaded and the dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders began. This knowledge is a whispering in the heart of the Australian conscience. How long can we continue to pretend our history was different? A better Australian story, the story we want to tell our children, eludes us. We cannot change our history, as much as we might desire it. We cannot ignore our history, because it has made us. But we can change our future to become an Australia without shame, embarrassment or the anger of dispossession. Reconciliation will be the nation-building task of this century—a nation building that redefines what is Australia and what it means to be Australians. As Phillip Pepper, Gurnai elder, said, “We are what we make ourselves to be.”

In her speech last week to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Linda Burney talked about consensus decision making and the capacity for narrative—story telling—and how her craft as a politician has been enhanced by these Indigenous attributes. Being a good local member for the people of Ginninderra begins with listening—it is also about finding solutions and explaining policy.

I would not be here today if it were not for the support and encouragement of a large number of people. There are too many to thank individually but I would particularly like to acknowledge my wife Julie; my 2008 campaign team led by Ross Maxwell and Michael Pilbrow; the wise advice of Bob McMullan and Bill Wood; the members and affiliates of the Australian Labor Party, particularly Matthew Cossey, former ACT branch secretary; my sub-branch, the Belconnen branch; and the ACT Indigenous Labor Network.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Sitting suspended from 10.24 to 10.34 am.

Death of Mr Jim Murphy AM

Motion of condolence

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health, Minister for Industrial Relations and Treasurer): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr Jim Murphy AM, a man whose generosity, commitment and contribution to the Canberra community

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