Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk
Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe
Major landmarks across Queensland will be lit tonight with the colours of the Australian South Sea Islander flag to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the community being formally recognised as a distinct cultural group.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the flag’s colours of green, blue, yellow, white and black will be used to illuminate Parliament House and the Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane, while regional centres, including Mackay, Townsville and Maryborough will light their own landmarks to mark the anniversary.
“20 years ago this week, in September 2000, the Queensland Government, with the bipartisan support of the opposition, officially recognised our Australian South Sea Islanders as a unique cultural community,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“That did not erase the harm that was done to South Sea Islanders in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But it was a crucial moment in righting that wrong.
“Today our responsibility is to keep that moment fresh in our minds, and to ensure that recognition remains, to continue to value the role and contribution of the South Sea Islander community in Queensland.”
Multicultural Affairs Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said more than 9,300 Australians identify as having Australian South Sea Islander heritage.
“Of those, 6,800 are Queenslanders – that’s 73 per who call the Sunshine State home,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“It was wonderful today to be able to welcome community members and elders to Queensland’s Parliament House to recognise this significant anniversary.
“Our Australian South Sea Islander people came to this country, mostly as ‘blackbirded,’ indentured labourers to toil in the sugar cane and cotton industries from the 1860s to the early 1900s.
“They came from the proud and culturally rich regions of the South Pacific, such as the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Here, however, they lived in hardship and faced awful discrimination.
“Today, our Australian South Sea Islander community contributes so much to Queensland’s economic, social, political and cultural life.”