Bill's Speeches

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS: RECONCILIATION WEEK - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA - TUESDAY, 29 MAY 2018

Mr Speaker 

It is Reconciliation week and in Reconciliation week we celebrate and pay our respect to the traditional custodians of our continent and pay respect to elders, past, present and, indeed, emerging.

We acknowledge the hard truths of our history and we should re-dedicate 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. Both victories that show, no matter what the odds or the obstacles, basic decency and Australian fairness will always win the day.  

And on that note, it’s now been a year since the gathering at Uluru and the presentation to the nation of their ‘Statement from the Heart’, their 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 that 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, the statement from the heart 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 in our nation’s birth certificate.

That’s what this week, and every week, should be about.


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