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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9304

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (16:52): I would like to congratulate the member for Dawson for bringing this motion to the House. This is a sad period in Australia's history, and one that not a lot of people know and understand. I also acknowledge that the member for Hinkler, as a Northern Queenslander, and a member who has sugarcane and sugar farming within his electorate, is here to speak on this piece of legislation today.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence in the chamber of members of the Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson) Limited group. It is fantastic that you could be here today to hear us make our little tribute towards the South Sea Islanders in Australia, and their contributions to our country.

As I was preparing this speech, I went through a lot of information and it reminded me just how cruel and brutal the treatment of South Sea Islanders was in Australia. They were used as slaves in their indentured labour. The member for Dawson was, I think, a little bit generous when he said it was the closest we came to slavery, I actually think that those South Sea Islanders working there were, in effect, slaves. They had no rights and they did not receive the same wages as other workers. It is a blight on the history of our country. The White Australia policy contributed to this also. The simple fact that South Sea Islanders were deported, were treated even more appallingly after 1901, is another blight on our country.

But I would like to make some positive statements about the enormous contribution that South Sea Islanders have made to our country. There have been many fields and many endeavours in which they have made positive contributions, but none more so than rugby league. As a proud member of parliament coming from the Newcastle region, I have to say that the South Sea Islanders have made a fantastic contribution. Last Sunday the Newcastle Knights defeated Parramatta and at the forefront of that defeat were three outstanding people from Australian-Samoan origins—there was Leilua, who scored one try, and the Mata'utia brothers, who are sensational football players. They really show what South Sea islanders can do for the game of rugby league. These are two young brothers that have spent the whole of this season basically in junior football, and because of injuries they have been elevated to first grade, and between them they scored not one try, not two tries, but five tries. To top it off their brother Peter Mata'utia plays for St George, and he is also a sensational player. These young guys were brought up in a household where there was no money, where they talked about having to eat bread to survive, and despite that disadvantaged background they have managed to be sensational rugby league players. So I think we need to pay real tribute to South Sea islanders, particularly in the area of rugby league and rugby union.

The point I would like to finish on is around diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that has a really big impact on the community. It is a disease that I do not think your community has come to terms with. South Sea islanders really are affected by diabetes, probably more than just about any sector of the population, and I think there is a need for programs and education directed towards combating diabetes in your community.