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Thank you Mr Speaker
As a newly-elected member of this place, I had the privilege of being in this chamber for Prime Minister Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations.
Some days, parliament together hits those rare notes where collectively the sum of our actions is greater than the individual parts.
On that day, 9 years ago that was such a day:
Prime Minister Rudd, Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, the Government, the Parliament, the people of Australia said sorry.
We faced up to the dark shadow of our national past: exclusion, discrimination and dispossession.
But the moment I remember most vividly was not the offer of the Apology, as fundamental as that was, but the way it was accepted.
On that day, there was a giving of forgiveness and a seeking of forgiveness.
There was a sense of hope, of joy.
How fortunate are we to share this continent with the bigness of spirit of our first Australians, the way they grasped the hand of national healing.
It was not a moment for recrimination but in fact a moment of catharsis for all, banishing the demons and devils of old hatreds as forgiveness was sought.
And I think so many of us found ourselves asking:
Why did it take so long?
Why did we wait - to do the right thing?
Because once it happened, with one or two unfortunate exceptions, there was a collective weight taken off the shoulders of the nation.
Let’s not find ourselves asking that again.
There are profound challenges ahead of us, on the road to Reconciliation.
We should be taking hope from the resilience of Aboriginal people.
Drawing hope from the success of Aboriginal leadership.
Finding hope in the way communities, locals, young people and their elders are tackling the problems they face.
Creating hope in a future where the first Australians have the first say in the decisions that affect their lives.
And with that hope, let us walk forward together in the spirit of the Apology nine years ago today.