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Wednesday, 23 June 1999
Page: 7256


Ms ELLIS (7:55 PM) —I want to read a passage from a book that I have here for the benefit of the House:

For the dispossession of your land.

For the confinement on reserves.

For your treatment as wards of the state.

For the exclusion from Commonwealth citizenship.

For the destruction of your families.

For the mistreatment by officials.

For the exploitation of your labour.

For the refusal to accept your ownership of the land.

For exposing you uncaringly to foreign diseases.

For the intolerance and discrimination.

For the Stolen Generation.

For actions which have destroyed many lives and which we can never undo.

Sorry

I acknowledge the grave wrongs which have been done to your people. I hope that there can be a way that we can go forward as a nation together.

One other brief quote:

Although I was never alive when it happened, I feel very sorry for what's been happening to you throughout the years.

Sorry.

The first quote I gave was a poem called Sorry Day Message by a student in my electorate, Bronwen McNeil. The second quote I gave was a message in the Trinity Christian Secondary School Sorry Book from a student by the name of Kirsten McGhie.

Given the time, I could quote many other wonderful examples of contributions made to a project within my community and published in a book called Reconciliation: One Real Nation. This book was promoted and put together by young people of the Tuggeranong Valley through the auspices of the Tuggeranong Community Arts Association, a project that they especially got up towards the end of last year. The book was published by the Community Arts Association with the assistance of the ACT government through its Cultural Council and with the Canberra Southern Cross Club community grants. Lorne Parker Doyle, community writing project officer and editor of the project, explains very clearly in the book the work that went behind putting up such a project. Julie Rickwood, the community cultural development officer, says in her introduction:

We have been blessed this year to have among our staff members, Daniel Williams, a young Ngunnawal man. Daniel has not only performed at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre and elsewhere in Canberra, but has developed skills and experience as an arts administrator. He has been instrumental to this project, visiting schools and encouraging students to participate.

The book was put out `in honour and respect for the Ngunnawal Elders and Ngunnawal People'. As all members in this place will know, because I have reminded them constantly, I have the privilege of having this House in my electorate. Can I also say that we all have the privilege of this House, sitting on the land of the Ngunnawal people.

We have talked in most recent times about the need for reconciliation. When the first draft of the reconciliation statement came out recently, I took this book off my bookshelf and read it for the second or third time. I remain totally impressed by the sentiments that have been shared with the community through this publication. It was open to students and others, but it is particularly the words of our younger people that I think all members of this House should read from either this book or from other publications.

We should listen to the views of our young people on the question of reconciliation. I do not know quite how to explain it, but young people have an insight that many of us with years behind us tend to lose. They have an honesty and an openness to this whole question. If Kirsten McGhie, a student at Trinity Christian Secondary School, can say sorry while acknowledging that she was nowhere near the actions that occurred, I have no problem in saying sorry for the terrible things that happened under the Holocaust. I understand the simplicity of it—I try to. I get a lot of strength in the question of reconciliation from reading examples like this. I truly commend the Tuggeranong Community Arts Association and everyone concerned with this marvellous project.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 8 p.m., the debate is interrupted.


Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, I require that the debate be extended.


Mr SPEAKER —The debate may continue until 8.10 p.m.