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Stolen Generations (Compensation) Bill

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 22:10 ): I rise to support this bill. The forcible removal of Aboriginal children is a terrible chapter in our history and one which we should not let be forgotten. This bill goes some small way to healing the wounds that the state’s institutions inflicted upon the innocent.

The Aboriginal people have a close bond with the natural world, their family groups and their broader communities. Relationships between Aboriginal peoples and their communities are generally more complex than European communities. This was necessary to ensure their survival on land with a harsh and unforgiving climate. As a consequence, Aboriginal family members have a greater number of parental obligations and responsibilities. The removal of children struck very deeply at the heart of these time-honoured traditions.

The children who were removed often lost their heritage, culture and language. Many of them suffered and continue to suffer, as did their families who remained on the lands. It is therefore appropriate that compensation be offered, although I acknowledge that compensation of itself cannot take away the pain of those impacted. I would like to think that South Australia aspires to be a leader in this nation in seeking to heal these wounds. I note that Tasmania, to its credit, introduced legislation of this nature some time ago. This parliament has an opportunity to lead the mainland states.

I commend the Hon. Terry Stephens for introducing the bill into this chamber. The Hon. Terry Stephens’ leadership on this issue is part of a long tradition of the Liberal Party to promote the interests of Aboriginal communities. There are many examples, but one that comes immediately to mind is that under the Hon. Dean Brown an apology was given for the forced separation of children.

I also wish to acknowledge and commend the passion and commitment of the Hon. Tammy Franks in her pursuit of justice for the Aboriginal peoples. I note last year the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee handed down its report on the Stolen Generations Reparations Tribunal Bill, which was originally moved by the Hon. Tammy Franks in 2010. I commend this bill to the chamber.

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