This Sunday is the 20th anniversary of the High Court's Mabo judgment. Because parliament is sitting, I won't be able to attend Mabo Day celebrations being organised tonight by the ACT Torres Strait Islanders Corporation at the National Museum of Australia. But here's the statement I've prepared to be read out.
Statement from Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser
Born on Murray Island one can only imagine what it would have been like to witnesses the moment Eddie Koiki Mabo realised that his land was owned by the Crown and not him and his people.
Noel Loos and Henry Reynolds recall of that moment in 1974: “Koiki was surprised and shocked”. They remember him saying “No way, it’s not theirs. It’s ours”.
From that moment to the High Court decision of June 3rd 1992, Eddie Mabo showed us that understanding is the responsibility of all Australians.
That an appreciation and understanding of Indigenous Australia, its history, culture and challenges is not an optional part of being Australian. It is essential to who we are.
Eddie Mabo Day helps further the understanding that is critical to reconciliation, through acknowledging and celebrating all Indigenous Australians and their contribution to our nation.
It is an opportunity to celebrate the life of a great Australian, to remember a man of extraordinary vision, warmth and intelligence. It encourages us to reflect upon a national identity with Aboriginality as a central and distinguishing theme.
With Indigenous stories taking their place as fundamental parts of the Australian story.
My apologies for not being able to be with you today to celebrate the remarkable contribution and life of Eddie Koiki Mabo.
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