Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) (By leave) — Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we are gathered and to pay my respects to their culture, to their elders past and present.
I would like to thank Aunty Carolyn Briggs and her grandsons, Jaeden and Marbee, for the beautiful welcome to country and smoking ceremony this morning. It is a privilege to have been there and it has been a privilege to work alongside the Aboriginal community to achieve this great achievement today.
Almost 160 years after construction began on this place, at last we fly the flag in acknowledgement of those on whose land this Parliament was built. We acknowledge in this place of democracy that all too often Aboriginal voices are not heard, and we acknowledge the oldest living culture in the world and Aboriginal peoples’ deep spiritual connection to their land and this country. It is a connection that is so perfectly embodied in the Aboriginal flag: black to represent the people and culture, yellow for the sun, and red for the earth and the ongoing spiritual relationship to land.
During my recent tour of Victoria with members of the Victorian Aboriginal community I heard and saw firsthand how much the flag means to Aboriginal Victorians. It is more than just symbolism. It is an expression of identity and strength for first nation people, and it is only fitting that it be flown here today.
I would like to thank the Speaker and the President of the Legislative Council for making this a reality and to thank both sides of Parliament for supporting it. I would particularly like to thank the traditional owners, the elders, the leaders and the community members who voice their strong support and continue to fight for reconciliation and recognition.
I would also like to acknowledge a conversation I had on the first day of this Parliament, when I sat alongside Alf Bamblett, who has since passed on. He pointed out to me that the flag did not fly above this place on a permanent basis, and he said that it was something that he would like to see. I would like to pay tribute to Alf.
Today is another great step forward in not just acknowledging but honouring the important connection between Aboriginal people, their land and this state.