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Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Page: 4710


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (13:58): It is Reconciliation Week. In Reconciliation Week we celebrate and pay our respects to the traditional custodians of our continent and their elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the hard truths of our history, and we should rededicate ourselves to building a better and more equal future for our First Australians. This week is bookended by the important anniversaries of the 1967 referendum and the 1992 Mabo decision, both historic victories for Aboriginal leadership and for national progress that show, no matter the odds or obstacles, that basic decency and Australian fairness will always win the day. On that note, it has now been a year since the gathering at Uluru and the presentation to the nation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the call for an Indigenous voice in the Constitution and a genuine empowered say in the decisions which govern their lives. It may not have been the outcome many of us expected, but neither was the verdict in Mabo. It is not for us to sit here and say that change is too hard for the parliament to enact or for the people of Australia to support. It is not for us to mischaracterise the voice and call it a third chamber of parliament; instead, it is our job to work with First Australians and all Australians to close the gap in housing, health, jobs, justice and education, and to enshrine their voice on our nation's birth certificate. That's what this week and every week should be about.