Wherever you were this morning I hope you managed to hear and see the government's apology to the stolen generations. The message was loud and clear. Australia is sorry. There will be no more lies and evasions; the government of Australia apologises for what it did. The first business of the new Parliament was the making of a long overdue forceful and formal acknowledgement of dreadful wrongs and a sincere expression of sorrow for the pain and grief these wrongs caused. It is not incongruous or wrong to feel joyfulness and optimism because the joy is for what might come of what was done so well today.
It's wonderful to think that our new government chose to open parliament with an act this symbolically and actually expressive of decency and maturity. The terms of the apology and Rudd's speech following on from it are based on empathy, respect, the ability to recognise and acknowledge another's suffering, and the desire to make reparation for it.
It's beyond wonderful that leaders of the parliament (some, it must be said, more gracefully than others) authoritatively told Australians to recognise and accept the truth of past events and asked Australians to use their imaginations to grasp something of what the the people involved in those events experienced. As Keating said afterwards the government has decisively chosen to re-establish the moral basis of its authority. And as a beaming Jackie Huggins said this is one of those rare days when it is possible to be unequivocally proud of being an Australian.
I hope there will be a great many more such days.
Is Australia about to wake up from its long trance?