Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Our Parliament, made right.

My Great Grandfather was at the opening of the first Parliament House in Canberra in 1927 - he was what we would now call a Coalition MP.

My Grandma was at the opening ceremony.

To my deep regret I missed out on the opening of the new and permanent Parliament House in 1988.

But I was in its Members Hall today, when things were put right.

Ngambri elder Matilda House Williams welcomed the House to her country.

"A Welcome to Country acknowledges our people and pays respect to our ancestors spirits who've created the lands," she said.

"In doing this the Prime Minister shows that we call proper respect, to us, to his fellow parliamentarians and to all Australians.''

"For thousands of years our people have observed this protocol, it is a good and honest and a decent and human act to reach out and make sure everyone has a place and is welcome."

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in reply: "It has taken 41 parliaments to get here - we can be a bit slow sometimes - but we got here."

"I don't think the openings of our parliaments will ever be the same again - and that is good."

The Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said, to Matilda House Williams, on behalf of Indigenous Australians:

"You made involuntary sacrifices. They were different, but they were no less important than the pioneering sacrifices of those who came to live here."

"I can assure you that whatever happens in future, so long as I have anything to do with it, Parliaments will be opened like this."