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Aboriginal Flag - Permanent Presence above Parliament House

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Tags: Aboriginal Tasmanians, Parliament

Aboriginal Flag Permanent Presence above Parliament House, Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP, 11 November 2020


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I pay my respects to the palawa/pakana elders past, present and those younger people who are emerging as true voices for their people. The palawa/pakana have cared for this island for tens of thousands of years and we are gifted by the beauty that we live among and by a culture which is rich and flourishing. We have so much to learn on the journey of living together on this island.

I am pleased to be a member of a party which has always recognised that this land was stolen, it was never ceded, and that true justice for Aboriginal people in Australia, in Tasmania, requires more than symbolic gestures. It requires real action towards treaty, towards land returns, towards choosing a date which is appropriate to Aboriginal people. It requires true and meaningful funding of services to change, to remove the inequalities that Aboriginal people in Australia suffer in every area of living - housing, education, health, ability to access jobs, disproportionate incarceration rates. There is much to be done.

I truly understand concerns that some people in the Aboriginal community have mentioned in past times about symbolic actions like the flag and the apology from the Prime Minster of Australia. These symbolic actions must be an essential first step, but they cannot be the last step that we take. They are an essential basis for action but they really are only a stepping stone on a journey that we must rapidly move down. In that respect it is so important that we have the Aboriginal flag flying above this House. I truly understand what the member for Bass said about her real surprise of the discordant situation where the Parliament of Tasmania does not fly an Aboriginal flag but we see it in so many other places. It is really symbolic in another way that we are one of the last places to make this decision and it is so past the time that we are doing it.

I will make some comments about the young people in the Aboriginal community and the incredible strength and spirit of young people. The SEED Indigenous Youth Climate Network, which is an Australian group and which has incredible activist voices in Tasmania, is recognising that justice for First Nation people is central to the future they want to inherit. In fact, they are linking up with non-Aboriginal people across the planet who recognise that First Nation people must be the creators, the biggest part of the story of climate action. We must have a future that provides justice for First Nation people as part of the transition to the new world that we must create, in order to have a habitable, flourishing, life-giving planet and so those young people, we are on the brink of a transformation and a safe climate must be one that is a just society.