15 September 2015
Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (By leave) – As the Leader of The Nationals the party dedicated to representing the people of rural and regional Victoria I am very pleased to rise today to speak on this historic occasion. I know today’s events at Parliament House will be well received by our rural and regional communities and I extend a warm welcome to the Aboriginal elders who have joined us.
I recognise that as we all meet here today at Parliament House we are in fact meeting on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. This special place was a traditional Kulin meeting place for interclan gathering and ceremonial events and today’s ceremony at 11.00 a.m. to raise the Aboriginal flag to fly permanently on top of Parliament House is therefore special when we pause and reflect on the significance of the grounds on which we meet.
Together with the Victorian and Australian flags from today Victoria’s Parliament House will fly the Aboriginal flag with its three distinct elements. The Aboriginal flag is deeply symbolic. In the words of the flag’s designer Aboriginal artist Harold Thomas black represents the Aboriginal people of Australia; the yellow circle represents the sun the giver of life and protector; red represents the red earth the red ochre used in ceremonies and the Aboriginal people’s spiritual relationship with the land.
I say again that this initiative today has the absolute support of The Nationals in Victoria and as has been noted 15 September is also the International Day of Democracy. The question is: what is democracy? In its broadest definition it is a system of government which involves all the people of the state contributing to the making of decisions about its affairs. I see today’s event the installation of the Aboriginal flag as a permanent fixture to fly above Parliament House as a further step along the long road of reconciliation. It is incumbent on all of us in this place today as leaders of our communities and our state to continue honouring and recognising our Aboriginal people. Today we have taken a further step towards ensuring that all the people of our state are recognised by welcomed by and involved in Victoria’s Parliament.