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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 841


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:01): Mr Speaker, also on indulgence, I echo the words of the Prime Minister on the fourth anniversary of the former Prime Minister's historic apology. Yes it certainly was the high point of the Rudd prime ministership and arguably it has been the high point of the current government. I want to cite, if I may, the words of the then Prime Minister, who said on that important day:

… unless the great symbolism of reconciliation is accompanied by an even greater substance, it is little more than a clanging gong.

I think what Mr Rudd said on that day is very important and we should remember it. I do not think we should remember that day in a spirit of self-congratulation; we should remember it in a spirit of consciousness of the magnitude of the task yet to be achieved. We have to get the children to school, we have to get the adults to work, we have to ensure that there are police in remote and other Indigenous communities so that the ordinary laws of the land apply. Yes symbolic change does matter; yes constitutional recognition is a mission as yet unaccomplished for our country. But, in the end, it is practical change that the Aboriginal people of this country need and want, and that is the task to which we should dedicate ourselves.