Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 14 September 2017) . . Page.. 3722 ..
from some people that the removal of Family and Community Day means that most of our public holidays are now concentrated in the first half of the year. This is not an ideal situation, especially for parents looking after children over the school holidays. While the feedback from the consultations was that replacing Family and Community Day was the preferred option, I do hope that there will be opportunities in the future to rebalance the spread of public holidays across the calendar year.
As a card-carrying republican, I would have chosen to remove the Queen’s Birthday public holiday, rather than Family and Community Day, to make way for Reconciliation Day. However, I recognise that this is not an opinion everyone would agree with, and there is more discussion to be had on that particular topic. I imagine that will happen over the coming years. Another change that the Greens have been supporting is the change the date campaign in relation to Australia Day. As part of our journey towards reconciliation, the Greens believe that all Australians should feel that they can participate and celebrate on days of national celebration, including Australia Day.
On 26 January 1788, the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson, and Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack on the land of the Eora nation. This was an invasion that had catastrophic and tragic consequences for all the peoples and nations who had lived here for tens of thousands of years, and for their descendants. In marking a day of colonisation, the Greens take the view that 26 January is an inappropriate date to celebrate our national day. As a nation, we are capable of a mature and sensible discussion on the issues that go to the heart of our national story. I hope that through the introduction of this legislation we will provide an opportunity to continue this conversation as part of the broader reconciliation process.
Finally, I would like to share with the Assembly words from the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation back in 2000. They said:
… all Australians can take heart from the positive outcomes so far. Nevertheless, a decade was a short time to address the legacies of 200 years of history, and much remains to be done…
Reconciliation is hard work—it’s a long, winding and corrugated road, not a broad, paved highway. Determination and effort at all levels of government and in all sections of the community will be essential to make reconciliation a reality.
With those words and reflections, the Greens are pleased to support this bill today, and we hope that it will contribute to progressing our journey of reconciliation.
MR WALL (Brindabella) (11.21): I will begin by confirming that the opposition will be supporting the bill before us today. I acknowledge that the changes to the act come largely as a legacy of a discussion started by Dr Chris Bourke in his time in this Assembly, and at the heart of this legislation is the desire to acknowledge some significant milestones in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history in this country and to celebrate and build on relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.