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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12123


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (09:30): Not so long ago, I took my son to visit the new Barangaroo headland reserve in my electorate of Sydney. It is the most beautiful new nature reserve at the heart of Sydney, a reconstructed naturalistic headland based on the pre-1836 shoreline. I loved it, and of course my little boy loved it too. It is named after Barangaroo, a Cammeraygal woman. She was a leader in the local Aboriginal community at the time that Europeans first arrived. Watkin Tench's account of the flogging of a convict who had stolen from the local Gadigal people describes the reaction of Indigenous people to the brutal punishment. One woman, he wrote, shed tears, but Barangaroo, 'kindling into anger, snatched a stick and menaced the executioner'. She was ever, he went on, 'fierce and unsubmissive'. I am pleased that this brave woman is commemorated in this way.

The name was suggested by Nigel Dawe, then working at Jannali railway station. Nigel was a very popular State Rail employee, not just for his cheerfulness but also for the thoughtful quote of the day that he would put up on the blackboard at the railway station every day.

The headland park opened on 22 August this year. It is the most recent step in the long process of claiming and keeping access to our beautiful foreshore for Sydney's residents and visitors alike. In 1895, the Land Appeal Court described the Sydney Harbour and the foreshore land as the 'people's inheritance'. Still, it was not until the election in 1910 of the McGowan Labor government, NSW's first Labor government, that anything really serious was done. That government spent 150,000 pounds on the wholesale resumption of land around North Head and Vaucluse. Niels Nielsen, the New South Wales Minister for Lands, spearheaded that project. He condemned 'the want of forethought on the part of those who had governed the state in the past in allowing such an enormous area of those beautiful water frontages to be taken away from the people'. This inheritance was passed on to Labor leaders such as Bob Carr and Tom Uren, who, as Premier and a community campaigner at the time, delivered Ballast Point back to the people—and of course I am proud of my own small role in that victory.

A hundred years after Nielsen, the new Barangaroo Reserve owes everything to the passion and commitment of a former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating. He was the chair of the Barangaroo Design Excellence Review Panel until 2011. Paul Keating has said that the first spark of an idea for Barangaroo Reserve was born when he was just 15, watching the old Sydney finger wharves being replaced. He insisted that Sydney look further back into our maritime history. Due in large part to his persistence, we can now see the headland the way it would have looked to the Indigenous people whose home it was, including Barangaroo.