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Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Page: 4071

Senator XENOPHON (10:02 AM) —Mr Acting Deputy President Ludlam, this is the first time I have addressed you as that in your role and I congratulate you. I have a lot of regard for Senator Boswell—he is the father of the house—but, with the greatest respect to Senator Boswell, I think he is being unfair in the way that he has characterised this debate. This debate is about a welcome to country ceremony. The Wild Rivers legislation is a completely distinct issue and I would like to think that Senator Boswell may consider some common ground in relation to this. I think it is appropriate that the first Australians be acknowledged and be part of the opening ceremony of this parliament, and Senator Boswell agrees with that. Another important factor in relation to this, if it is passed as I hope it will be, is that it will drive home to each and every representative in this nation’s parliament the importance of having Indigenous issues at the forefront of our minds because we know so much needs to be done.

Senator Boswell —But we’re not doing it.

Senator XENOPHON —Senator Boswell is right in part in that we need to do much, much more. I think a welcome to country ceremony is not only appropriate from a symbolic point of view but also appropriate from a practical point of view because it will ram home every time this parliament opens the role of the first Australians in this nation’s history and the role that we need to play to ensure that levels of poverty and levels of deprivation in Indigenous communities are addressed as a matter of urgency. I support this motion, I believe it is appropriate and I would like to think that there is common ground in the chamber to say that this ceremony will have both symbolic and practical effects. I think that is a good thing

Question agreed to.