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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 841

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (13:59): Mr Speaker, with your indulgence I wish to make a short statement. On Wednesday this week I will deliver to the House the annual Closing the Gap statement and we will have the opportunity then to speak extensively about progress made in reconciliation with Indigenous Australians. Today we are wearing a flower because it is the anniversary of the day that this parliament said sorry to the stolen generations. I believe we should mark the day that the apology was delivered. No-one who had the privilege of being in this House or listening to the apology beyond this House could have failed to be moved by the dignity of Kevin Rudd's words on that day. They were noble in their directness and moral clarity. It was a moment of grace in the life of our nation, and it gave us an insight into what a reconciled nation could look like.

This year the relevance and timeliness of the apology is more obvious than ever. We need the spirit of the apology to keep urging us on—on to the next step, which is constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, and on to the next step, too, which is directing our focus always on closing the gap. We know in our own lives that matters of the spirit and practical matters are not divorced from each other; words of apology matter, and that apology mattered in the life of our nation and we mark its anniversary today.