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Address to GenerationOne Breakfast, Parliament House

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Address to GenerationOne Breakfast, Parliament House March 20, 2013


It’s terrific to be here. I acknowledge Matilda. It’s great to be with you, Matilda. I acknowledge you, Mick Gooda, the Social Justice Commissioner and you Tom Calma, his predecessor. It’s great to be with Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives - our elder, Ken, thank you so much for being here, and so many other parliamentary colleagues, my deputy Julie Bishop, Ministers Macklin and Collins,

Shadow Ministers Scullion and Payne.

It’s great to see so many people here today, because there is a new spirit in our land; a new determination to make the most of our country, a determination that Aboriginal people should not just disappear into the mass of Australia but be proud Aboriginals while fully participating in the great life of our magnificent country. That is the new spirit that is abroad in our country right now and it’s so different, as Andrew has pointed out, from the spirit that existed in the past when we wanted Aboriginal people to disappear or we wanted Aboriginal people to be in some museum of cultural archaeology. It is so different today and so much better today. We’ve got to build on this new spirit and make it come to fruition.

Every Aboriginal kid has got to go to school. Every Aboriginal adult has got to work. That has got to be our determination. Noel Pearson and others have done so much to put Aboriginal kids into school and now Andrew Forrest and Warren Mundine are doing so much to ensure that Aboriginal adults are in work.

The great insight of GenerationOne is that employment starts with an employer. You can have all the training in the world, you can have all the goodwill in the world, but unless there is someone who is prepared to say “Yes, I will employ that person,” one employer, one employee, it will not work. This is the great insight that Andrew and Warren have had because they have looked at this, they have studied it, they have lived it and now they are putting this insight into practice for the benefit of every single Australian.

Andrew, you’ve asked: will we be courageous? Well, yes we are courageous. We are courageous enough to give this a go. The Government, as Julie has pointed out, is continuing to fund in a big way various indigenous employment services and that is as it should be and the Coalition as you know will specifically fund GenerationOne centres. We will be courageous. We will do it. We will also be prudent. We will look at the results and if, as I believe, if as you believe, these results demonstrate that this is a much better way, well then that can be the foundation not just for indigenous employment but for all employment services for long-term unemployed people right around our country.

I have often said that the mark of a human being is not what we have to do but what we choose to do. It’s not what people do for money but what people do for love that is the real measure of them. Now, Andrew you didn’t have to do what you are doing. You could have easily continued to be just a standard business man but you have chosen to be a patriot. You have chosen to be a citizen. You have chosen to be a social leader in a remarkable way and I pay tribute to you. You don’t get a lot of praise in this Parliament, I have got to say, but I think today you do deserve praise.

Warren Mundine - Warren you have been a remarkable leader, not just for your own people but for all Australians. You could have been in this Parliament, mate. In fact, one day I would like you to be in this Parliament but in the meantime I salute what you are doing. I admire so much what you are doing and I am so proud to call you a friend.

Warren and Andrew, thank you very much. Everyone here today, thank you so much.

This is a great day for indigenous people. I don’t know what else might be happening in our Parliament today but I do know that what is happening here this morning is something of which we can all be very proud. You can’t always say that about what happens in the Parliament, but we can be proud of this.

Thank you.


© Tony Abbott MHR 2010 | Authorised by Tony Abbott MHR, Level 2, 17 Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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