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New Canberra surburb honours elder and statesman.

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Canberra is full of places named after great leaders and great servants of the people but the naming of a new suburb after the late Neville Bonner holds particular significance, the Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today.

"Neville Bonner was both a leader and a servant of his people, as well as an extraordinary pioneer," the Minister said at the naming ceremony.

"The ACT Government is making a significant contribution to reconciliation by naming this new suburb after Mr Bonner. Initiatives such as this portray our shared journey of reconciliation - past, present and future.

The new suburb was named during NAIDOC Week, the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee's week of celebrations.

"It serves as a prominent public symbol of a commitment to heal the wounds of the past. It is a symbol of our desire as a nation to move forward together to a harmonious future."

The Minister said Bonner is a name that stands proud in Australian history.

"I knew Neville Thomas Bonner - Jagera elder and national statesmen - very well. I came into Parliament in 1973, two years after he was elected to the Senate.

"Neville became the conscience of the Parliament on Indigenous matters - both sides felt the lash of his tongue when he felt that insufficient attention was being paid to Indigenous needs.

"He believed in tolerance and working together. He believed that progress for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people required mutual respect and mutual engagement.

"Reconciliation will only occur when Indigenous and non-Indigenous people share the same opportunities in education, employment and health.

"It will only occur when we can work together, study together and live side-by-side while recognising each other's needs and place in the community.

"I hope that the name Bonner proves to be such an inspiration for all those who live there."

During NAIDOC Week, Mr Ruddock will also visit Dubbo for an Aboriginal summit, and he will attend the national NAIDOC Ball in Melbourne.

9 July 2001