Prime minister Anthony Albanese recommitted to the Uluru Statement from the Heart during the Welcome to Country ceremony at the beginning of the first day of the 47th Parliament sitting.
The importance of the statement was at the forefront of the prime minister’s speech on Tuesday morning.
Albanese called the Uluru Statement from the Heart — which he recommitted to in his speech — a sign of “manners”.
“When you have issues that are affecting people, particularly people who have a history going back 65,000 years that offers us a continuous source of great national pride here in Australia, why wouldn’t you?
“Why wouldn’t you grasp that generous and gracious offer which is about reconciliation, which is about acknowledging dispossession and colonisation and all of the tragedy and injustice that occurred as a result of the First Fleet arriving in 1788?” the prime minister asked.
The prime minister urged his parliamentary colleagues to not “miss the chance”.
“You’re not here for that long. None of us will be. When you’re sitting on the porch, thinking about what you’re doing, you can either have a source of pride or a source of regret [sic].”
Albanese also referenced the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing a parallel between the country’s desire to “look after each other” and mask-wearing, noting some in the crowd were wearing masks.
The speech was concluded by Albanese calling for humility and hope to guide the 47th parliament, inspired by the words of Aunty Matilda House.
Aunty Matilda, a Ngambri and Ngunnawal woman, herself spoke briefly, welcoming those present, before asking her son Paul House to speak on her behalf.
“We listen to our ancestors, the old people, they show us the right path. They take care of us, they help us, they protect us. Looking to see, listening to hear, and learning to understand.
“Respect, be gentle, be polite, be patient, give honour, take responsibility. Respect is taking responsibility for the now, the past, the present and the future,” Paul House said.
Paul House took the opportunity to call on the parliament to commit to all three key elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including a national treaty and truth-telling.
Leader of the opposition Peter Dutton made a short speech, acknowledging the representation of First Nations people in this parliament.
“The words we heard this morning carried a strong message of unity. A Welcome to Country made in the spirit of peace and a desire for harmony with all peoples of modern Australia.
“It reminded me how lucky we are to live in a peaceful and harmonious society, particularly compared to other parts of the world this very day,” Dutton said.