Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (11:45): I thank the member for Norwood for putting forward this motion and thank others who have spoken on it, as well. This is great news. This is really tremendous news, to have an Aboriginal man elected to the House of Representatives. Of course, we on this side are particularly proud that he is a member of the Liberal Party and representing the Liberal Party in federal politics.

One of the most important aspects of this man's election, which the member for Morialta just alluded to, is the fact that he was not elected because he is Aboriginal. He was not elected because he is Aboriginal but because he will be a very good member of parliament. He has been a community leader, he has been an exceptionally strong capable person in his own right and he displays all the characteristics of leadership and community support, which I am sure we all agree are the most important things of what we all try to do here. So, it is very important to point that out.

This is a quality, capable, high-capacity individual who has been elected to parliament, and it is also wonderfully symbolic that he is the first Aboriginal person to be elected to the House of Representatives. This is an important issue with regard to the electorate of Stuart, of course, where 6 or 7 per cent approximately of the people who live in the electorate are of Aboriginal background. I hope that this man, Ken Wyatt, serves to be a very positive example for many people in Stuart and certainly not just the Aboriginal people.

While I certainly do not intend to relinquish my position as the member for Stuart any time soon, I would be thrilled to think that one day an Aboriginal member of parliament could represent the electorate of Stuart—hopefully, not any time soon, as I just said, and, hopefully, he will be a Liberal representative. This will be a wonderful example for people all through the electorate of Stuart and South Australia as well.

One of the things that is really important is that, clearly, Aboriginal people often make up large numbers of what we consider to be disadvantaged people throughout South Australia. I would like to put a personal view. While that is certainly true, I think one of the most important ways of removing anyone from disadvantage is to help that person recognise opportunities and find ways to get advantage. I am sure that Ken Wyatt, as we would all ourselves like to do, will endeavour to do that for Aboriginal people all over Australia.

With respect to local government, we have all had local government elections throughout South Australia just recently, and one of the things I have said in my travels as a brand-new member of parliament over the last seven or eight months is that it would be wonderful to have an Aboriginal person on Port Augusta city council. I think that would be tremendous. Aboriginal people, or people with some Aboriginal background, represent 17 or 18 per cent of the Port Augusta population broadly, and I think that we would all agree that it would be quite fair if 17 or 18 per cent of the councillors could be Aboriginal people. Certainly, no Aboriginal person put themselves forward as a candidate, although I did encourage a few people to do so.

I also point out that, when I did that, I made it very, very clear that, while it would be wonderful to have at least one Aboriginal member of council in Port Augusta, I would not be encouraging anyone to vote based on race. I would not want Aboriginal people to vote for an Aboriginal candidate just because the candidate was an Aboriginal person. I think that would not be helpful.

In the vein of Ken Wyatt, I know there are some very good and capable Aboriginal people who could get elected and who could perform extremely well based on their own skills, background and capacity. I think that is an important thing drawing back into local government and I am sure that is the case in local government throughout South Australia.

Again, thank you to the member for Norwood for moving this motion. I wholeheartedly support it and I unreservedly congratulate Ken Wyatt not only for being the first Aboriginal person in the House of Representatives but, most importantly, for being an incredibly capable member of parliament in the House of Representatives.


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