Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee: APY Lands Visit

Parliamentary Committees

I rise to support the motion and thank the member for Narungga, and indeed the entire Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, not only for the report that has been prepared to enlighten us as members of the parliament but for their attendance and for making those observations and bringing that information back to the parliament. It is very important that this committee be the eyes and ears of the parliament to ensure that we are kept contemporary with what is happening on the lands and to report the key issues back to us.

While they were visiting in May, one very important thing was happening on the APY lands, and that was as a consequence of the women from the Western Desert area and APY lands viewing on their televisions, as we all did, the tragic circumstances that occurred in a mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand, the sister city of Adelaide. Not only were they, too, moved by this but they wanted to ensure that there was communication of their pain that they shared with many of the families in Christchurch when this despicable act of murder had occurred.

They set about coming together to produce the most exquisite piece of artwork, a very large piece of artwork, which I later learned represented the flowers they wanted to send to the people of Christchurch. Flowers are often a symbol of memorial in relation to one who is suffering grief in circumstances and they replicated the flowers in a massive dot painting. For example, they had pale lilacs in there, which they explained to me later were representative of grevillea, but they also happened to be the colour of what is the most beautiful flower of the region and in the Northern Territory, which is the desert rose. All these beautiful colours and the stories in relation to people coming together to convey their support and sympathy were captured in this beautiful piece of artwork.

I want to commend the Premier for not just asking me but allowing me to go to Christchurch recently with three of the many artists who had come together to present this gift to the Mayor of Christchurch in the presence of families and leaders in their communities who had suffered directly and also in the presence of some of the indigenous New Zealanders of Maori descent. It was a very moving occasion. It was highlighted by the speeches of three of the artists to explain their gift of love and support to the people of Christchurch.

For those who have not visited Christchurch in recent years, as our sister city it has of course received our support in the wake of the shocking earthquakes that it suffered. It is a city that has been rebuilt. It has grown up out of the ashes. Most of the buildings now are at a limit of seven storeys and on a new type of engineered support structure to be more able to accommodate earthquakes and movement in the buildings and therefore their salvation in the event of those events occurring in the future. It is a city that obviously had been very badly damaged by these natural events and then, more recently, devastated by the loss of life—some 51 murdered and 49 seriously injured.

Our hearts are with the people of Christchurch. This was a very moving occasion. The people of the APY lands—all of them—and the families of those women, many of whom contributed to this piece of work, should be congratulated. I do so, I think on behalf of everyone here in the parliament, to recognise this very important and generous gift from the many women on the APY lands who acted immediately. They were doing those paintings while the committee was there; they have been delivered, the people of Christchurch are appreciative and we should be very proud of them.