Parliamentary debate – NSW Parliament Recognises Australia’s History of Slavery – On the 15th August 2013 Mr Alex Greenwich put forward the motion for debate in NSW Parliament which saw seven members speak in favour.

Video 1 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Mr Alex Greenwich (Sydney, Independent Member) said. “While being defined as a distinct disadvantaged ethnic group, there are no specific programs and services for Australian South Sea Islanders nor are there official figures on how many descendants there are in Australia.” Debate by the seven MP’s who spoke was thoughtful, sensitive and informed and has strong symbolic importance to Australian South Sea Islanders.

Video 2 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Ms Linda Burney (Canterbury, Member of the Legislative Assembly) Today’s debate carries several messages and one of those is the importance to Aboriginal, South Sea Islander and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have their story acknowledged and legitimised and to have the identities of generations of South Sea Islanders recognised in the narrative of this nation.

Video 3 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Mr Donald Page (Ballina, Member of the The Nationals) – In the Tweed the first South Sea Islander workers arrived to work in the cane fields in the Brunswick Valley in the 1880s. By 1891, 105 South Sea Islanders were recorded as living in and around Cudgen and Tumbulgum.

The Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 had led to the deportation of many islanders but some were still working in the Cudgen area. The Act was amended to include a £100 fine for employing “unregistered kanakas”. There were also large numbers of South Sea Islanders at Tumbulgum, including the father of remarkable Australian human rights activist Faith Bandler, one of the major forces behind the success of the 1967 referendum recognising Aboriginal rights in this country.

The peoples of the South Seas are integral to the history of the North Coast. For instance, the name of Wategos Beach at Byron Bay is named after a prominent islander family. Many South Sea Islander people still live on the North Coast, and their contribution has been better recognised more recently. They were integral in the development of the sugar, banana and timber industries and to clearing land for the dairy industry.

Video 4 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Mr Chris Hartcher (Terrigal, Libreral Party Minister) extract “… the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.” Among the first bills passed by the new Commonwealth Parliament after its inauguration in 1901 was legislation removing Pacific Islanders from Australia and transporting them back to the islands of the Pacific. It is important to put this in historical context. The history of the Australian Labor Party is built upon that story.

While Australian Labor Party members happily support the motion today they tend to gloss over the history of their own political party. The trade union movement now endorses these principles but once again they gloss over the history of their actions. There is a famous quotation by the philosopher Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Video 5 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Mr Jamie Parker (Balmain, Greens Party) On 25 August “…last year I learnt a lot more about this issue when I attended a South Sea Islanders function at St Johns in Glebe. In particular, I was introduced to a word that has come to signify the great shame of this period: ‘blackbirding’. We heard also about Faith Bandler, the daughter of a South Sea Islander who was blackbirded into the Queensland cane fields. It was a sad and shameful period in our history, and today’s motion goes some way towards addressing it”.

I have met a number of times with representatives of the Australian South Sea Islander community, including those who attended the twentieth anniversary of the national body for Australian South Sea Islanders. I especially acknowledge Emelda Davis for her fantastic work, particularly in my electorate, on this issue.”

Video 6 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Mr Guy Zangari (Fairfield, Labor Party) – NSW Recognition speech 15th August 2013 – NSW Recognition speech 15th August 2013 During the early twentieth century, when the Commonwealth of Australia was in its infancy, South Sea Islanders were targeted by the introduction of legislation limiting the entry of non-British or Europeans into Australia.

Records indicate that from 1904 to 1908 a total of 7,068 islanders were deported from Australia. That is terrible: The community that provided the labour upon which the early sugar industry was founded and that allowed it to flourish was denied all recognition.

Video 7 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Mr Bryan Doyle (Campbelltown, Member of Liberal Party) “I support the motion moved by the member for Sydney that highlights Australia’s shared migrant history, which involves people from the South Sea Islands and from throughout the Pacific—Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Maori communities. I welcome the news that the Minister for Citizenship and Communities will meet with the national body of South Sea Islanders.”


NSW Parliament debate summary on Recognition of Australian South Sea Islanders.

Video 8 – Published on Oct 9th, 2013

Alex Greenwich (Sydney, Independent Member) Commend the motion to the house “All those in favour say ‘aye'” …a unanimous vote was seen on this day 15th August 2013, that this House:

(1) notes 25 August 2013 as Australian South Sea Islander Recognition Day, marking 150 years since about 50,000 people on 62,000 indenture contracts from around 80 Pacific Islands were recruited or kidnapped to work in sugar cane fields where they were exploited;

(2) notes the Australian South Sea Islanders suffered inhumane treatment, the highest mortality rates of any immigrant group to Australia and mass deportations when the White Australia Policy was introduced;

(3) notes many of the 40,000 Australian South Sea Islander descendants who live in Australia remain marginalised and disadvantaged;

(4) notes thousands of Australian South Sea Islanders live in New South Wales but an official number has not been established;

(5) notes then Premier Carr’s memorandum of understanding of 1995 called for adequate programs and services;

(6) acknowledges the Community Relations Commission’s initiatives in relation to South Sea Islanders and requests the Government to liaise with the National Body for Australian South Sea Islanders in preparing a demographic, social and economic community profile; and

(7) acknowledges the contribution the Australian South Sea Islander community makes to New South Wales and its history in Australia.