Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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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?

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elaine said...

I'm not used to feeling proud of the actions of my government.

It feels strange and good.

((((((((ö)))))))) said...

The recognition at Federal Government level of the trauma caused by the mistakes of the past is a great thing and I am happy to be reading such words of optimism as yours Lucy. As I am an expat aussie (in Sweden) I am trying to gauge the depth of the apology but it really seems to be profound and genuine. The hope of:

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

is what all Australian must now hold the new government to.

peacay said...

{The last time I felt any sense of national pride was during the Olympics.}
---
It's improving reality on the ground moving forward that is the truly significant and hugely difficult task for which the speech was simply the starting gun.

I'm fairly psyched that there has been ministerial thoughts about things like HECS incentives and similar to divert professional graduates to the outback. I'm also heartened to note the change of (at least rhetorical) emphasis from intervention to the concrete ideas of, for instance, having places for all kids in preschools. If they can get the staff, that sort of change would, I think, have far greater effect than paternalistic white chargers roaring into town to 'protect the kids'.

Boyoboy it's an enormous task though. At least we begin from a point of optimism.

Thanks Laura, you summed things up nicely.

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Rudd, The Hon. K, is putting the PRIME back into Prime Minister.

Now he is calling on
our neighbour PNG where
so many Australian WW2 prisoners OF THE WHALE BOMBING AND GUNNS PULP MILL-OWNING BLOODY JAPANESE were forced to hack out The Kokoda Track.
Many 'baby boom'-ers have re-traced their father's steps on this terrible site and will be happy that Mr.Rudd has now gone there too, the first visit by a PM in 11 years.

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