Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 14, 2022


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:59): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister update the council on the recent news that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are now flying permanently on Government House?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:00): I thank the Hon. Russell Wortley for his question and again will be happy to answer his question and update the chamber. It is fantastic news that for the first time Government House is now permanently flying the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags alongside the Australian and South Australian flags at the front of Government House. This was made possible by works to install a new flag deck at the very front of Government House as you enter from the gates on the corner of King William Street and North Terrace.

Just as you leave Parliament House on the corner you will no doubt be able to see the new flags flying. This is a meaningful gesture by Her Excellency the Governor and the Government House team. A few weeks ago, as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and alongside some other South Australians, it was a distinct honour to be part of the ceremony and to raise the Aboriginal flag for the first time to fly permanently.

Raising the Australian national flag at the ceremony was Mr Keith 'Chook' Fowler, a veteran of World War II now aged 102 years old, and he raised the flag very proudly. Raising the South Australian flag was Miss Lara Nguyen, a Year 11 student who is a remarkable leader in her school community. Alongside myself raising the Aboriginal flag was Tanya Hosch, the 2021 South Australian of the Year, raising the Torres Strait Islander flag alongside her daughter, Marley. For all of us it was a great privilege to be part of the ceremony at Government House hosted by Her Excellency and, as I said, I would like to pay tribute to Her Excellency and the team at Government House for this.

Government House is one of the most recognisable colonial symbols in our state and therefore I know that like other colonial symbols it therefore sometimes symbolises the hardships that came to many Aboriginal people when colonisation occurred. I think it is important, acknowledging that dispossession and the often brutal treatment of Aboriginal people, that we now seek to address that history. I think the permanent flying of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at Government House plays a small part in that.

To fly the flag at the site permanently, to invite a senior Kaurna man to welcome guests to country and perform a smoking ceremony, and to invite senior leaders of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from across our state played a part as well. It is a small gesture, but an important one, particularly in Reconciliation Week that was held from 27 May to 3 June.

Again, there were other members of this parliament who were at the ceremony, including you, Mr President, taking part in the occasion and that reflects well on the Legislative Council. The Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Attorney-General from the other place were also in attendance, as were many other important guests, and I look forward to continuing to update the chamber on ways—both big and small—that our state is continuing the work of reconciliation.