Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 15:32 :20 ): It gives me pleasure in the first South Australian parliament sitting week after Reconciliation Week to pay tribute to Port Augusta’s Aboriginal Community Engagement Group for whom I have great regard. They are co-chaired by Ms June Lennon and Mr Aaron Stuart, and with many other members of great capacity they join together to do everything that they possibly can to give Port Augusta and the surrounding district a capable, clear and positive united voice on Aboriginal issues.
Deputy Speaker, as you may know, for tens of thousands of years Port Augusta has been a very important meeting place for Aboriginal people, and that still remains so today. Of course, that means that many Aboriginal traditional groups call Port Augusta home. I do not mean to make any comment with regard to specific native title claims or determinations, but I mean home in the modern sense of the word, and in that sense they have every right to do so. Port Augusta is fortunate to have a relatively high Aboriginal population compared to the rest of South Australia, and we are fortunate that so many different traditional Aboriginal groups and families are involved in our local community.
One of the things that is important is that the members of ACEG can be members of their own traditional Aboriginal groups and families and be their own leaders, if you like, of subgroups and yet come together to work for the Aboriginal community more broadly under the ACEG banner. That is very important, because for people who want to support the Aboriginal community—and there are many of them, such as myself—it is important to have one group united and working together on behalf of all Aboriginal people to turn to when you are trying to support all of the local community.
I would like to put on record my appreciation to minister Maher for accepting my invitation to come to Port Augusta to meet with ACEG, and it was a very positive meeting. I know that the Port Augusta City Council engages very positively with ACEG as well as should governments of all levels—local, state and federal governments. When you have the opportunity to engage with a representative group such as the Port Augusta Aboriginal Community Engagement Group, it is an opportunity not to be missed.
An enormous number of issues need to be dealt with, and not all of them have easy solutions, but the first step towards finding solutions is having knowledgeable, capable, hardworking people of goodwill coming together, and that means Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, to do that. I commend ACEG for doing everything that it possibly can to do that work. I respect them for the work they do and I enjoy my participation with them. I am sure that there is much that we can achieve together.
Port Augusta is a tremendous place, as all members have heard me say here many times before, and we have a very multicultural society, obviously starting with the very first Australians in the Aboriginal community, all through to migrants from decades ago to very new migrants. I was at a citizenship ceremony last week at the Port Augusta City Council with people from at least three continents being confirmed as new Australian citizens. We are a very multicultural society. We can certainly improve as a community with regard to our acceptance of people from other backgrounds. Overwhelmingly, people from Port Augusta accept people from Aboriginal communities and from overseas ethnic backgrounds, but we can improve.
I just want to be sure that this house is very well aware of the good work that ACEG in Port Augusta does and that all members of parliament do whatever they can to support that work, whether that be in a backbench capacity of personal genuine interest or a government delegation, a parliamentary committee or a minister. We need to share the best of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community in Australia for everyone’s benefit.