Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Sorry

It's taken so long. Too long.

The Rudd Government's formal apology to the stolen generations will happen this morning.

More than 100 members of the stolen generations have been invited to Parliament to witness the speech.

The apology was broadcast live at Federation Square in Melbourne at 8.30am

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the former policies of aboriginal removal were "a blight on the nation's soul" and there was an overwhelming desire by Australians to deal with this issue.

"It is unfinished business for the nation." The Government planned to invest significantly in Aboriginal communities based on reciprocal obligation, to improve indigenous life expectancy, education and health.

It will be an historic moment and it is important that people have the opportunity to witness the apology.

The Victorian Parliament passed a motion of apology 10 years ago, moved by premier Jeff Kennett: "I move that this house apologises to the Aboriginal people on behalf of all Victorians for the past policies under which Aboriginal children were removed from their families, and expresses deep regret at the hurt and distress this has caused, and reaffirms its support for reconciliation between all Australians."

Today's 344-word apology recognises the "profound grief, suffering and loss" inflicted on generations of indigenous men and women.

Apologising is not about laying blame. It's about looking forward.

The Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese says an Indigenous representative will not be able to respond. "Unfortunately our standing orders don't provide for that to be a possibility, I know that did occur in some of the state Parliaments, but it's just not possible," he says.

Greens leader Bob Brown reacted angrily: "Indigenous people should be on the floor of the Parliament itself rather than in the people's hall next door."
He pointed to the precedent in 2003 when US President George W Bush and China’s Hu Jintao, were granted leave by the parliament to address special joint sittings.

Yesterday, on Cairns' 846AM, John McKenzie was slamming the rights of indigenous locals to take shellfish and other food source from protected green areas around Green Island. "It's a disgrace. Absolutley amazing. We have one rule for all Australians," he said.

VIDEO: Watch Kevin Rudd deliver appology
AUDIO: Full Speech
VIDEO: Look back at saying sorry

Rudd's speech:


"I give notice that, at the next sitting, I will move:

That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

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.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."

In an attack on Howard's government, Rudd said it had treated the Stolen Generations with a "stony, stubborn and deafening silence for more than a decade".

"[There was] a view that we should look for any pretext to push this great wrong to one side, to leave it languishing with the ... academics and the 'cultural warriors', for who the Stolen Generations are little more than an interesting sociological phenomenon. But as of today the time for denial is at last come to an end."

Reconciliation is a reflection of a core tenet of Australian society: the concept of a fair go for all.

"For our nation, the course of action is clear ... and that is to deal now with what has become one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history."
"In doing so, we are also wrestling with our own souls.

"As Prime Minister of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Government of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Parliament of Australia, I am sorry. And I offer you this apology without qualification."

I hope this will open a new era in Australian history.
We have had sufficient audacity and faith to advance part way to that future, with arms extended rather than with fists still clenched. Let us allow this day of national reconciliation to become one of those rare moments in which we might just be able to transform the way in which the nation thinks about itself.

For the nation to bring the first two centuries of our settled history to a close ... and embrace with awe these ancient cultures which we are blessed, truly blessed to have among us.

Photo: Prime Minister Rudd applauds members of the Stolen Generations after offering his apology.

12 comments:

google name search said...

Off topic a bit but reagrds Mackenzie's slamming of inidgenous fishers in green zones, he said because dugongs an sea-turtles are under threat, here is a portion of a recent post by yourself mr moore;
" Around the coastal waters off Cairns, and especially around Port Hinchinbrook, the incredible seacow or dugong is endangered. More protection for this unique grazing mammal in our shallow coastal waters is needed for preservation."
Who says sorry to the dugongs and turtles when they are cut up to death, by whoever. Though turtle is delicious!! And will PNG apologize for KB!?

Anonymous said...

A historic day, and a historic occasion. Yes, as Syd so rightly points out, the "Sorry" apology has a lot of resonance in this part of the world.
What has been disappointing is the silence from the newly elected Federal Member for Leichhardt, Jim Who?

ian said...

how come no comment was made by rudd about the different groups of humans who inhabited Australia before the current indigenous Australian came from Sri Lanka around 40,000 years ago, how come these previous peoples. at least four groups, are always ignored!!??? Is it because we don't wish to admit what became of them?

Anonymous said...

Let's just say, I'm NOT SORRY.

I enjoy the stories of hunting 'aborigines' in Tasmania.

Anonymous said...

I think that Alan Blake should apologise for his sloppy piece of electioneering material.
Fancy putting OLHOC school on your flier as "OLD" lady Help of Christians.
Obviously the snake is not a "mick" and he just blew the catholic vote.
incumbents should know better....

spelczech said...

Hi Anonymous

I'll take the blame for that one - as I was in charge of getting his map put together and listing the schools. I went TAS myself, I should know better - you're right. While we're on topic - spose I better say "sorry" for that too.

I actually rang Alan to confirm this and he referred the school as Our Lady..

Please not that the reprinted door hangers do not include Our Lady.. as they have been removed as a polling booth.

Anonymous said...

Never mind the catholic vote. This snake oil salesman wandered into my place during his 5 minutes a day of doorknocking and said, "My record speaks for itself" Yes it does Alan, and it is time we got rid of weak, snivelling independents like you. Too afraid to stand up to Byrne(Despite having the numbers)

Anonymous said...

Hey spelczech, TAS is a school for rich protestant kids. What credentials does that give you to know about working class catholics?

Alan wouldn't know OLHOC if it bit him on the backside.

And since when has your old man ever had an affinity with the predominantly blue collar division 5?
Has anyone seen Blakey doorknocking in Murray Street? Probably too busy selling furniture....

Anonymous said...

Blakey selling furniture!

Try asking him about the council tendering process for purchase of furniture.....I'm sure he is more than au fait. Nice work if you can get it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Spelczek, you seem like a nice young man, obviously well brought up and polite.

But there is an old saying your father should have taken heed of -
Never send a boy on a man's mission.

Keep this in mind when you have children of your own...

Spelczech said...

hahah I do love this place ;)

What credentials does that give me to know about working class catholics?

Obviously not enough! But you seem to be an expert - perhaps I should send my artwork to you for proof-reading in the future?

My my, seems people are actually paying attention to detail on the material that is handed out for these elections...

Wait a minute... is that all you could find? I think you'll notice if you turn it over you'll see that I spelt Parramatta Park with one R. Want to have a go at me for this too!? Sure! Go ahead!

One thing my father has taught me from working in Council is how to deal with people's problems.. openly and honestly; So I welcome your criticism.

As for the tendering process... Not sure if the Council owns many cafe's and restaurants... Be sure to mention any of the furniture that I've sold to Council. Whilst Alan may own the business, I run it, so if there's any criticism there... I also welcome it!

And thanks anonymous, I'll pass the compliment on to the lovely people who brought me up and gave me my manners!

Anonymous said...

You are a good bloke sticking up for the old man, pity he couldn't have done the same for the people of Cairns.And last time I checked, I'm sure council did actually own and use commercial furniture.
Be very careful here, there are a lot of loose lips around town, and they are not just blabbing about Unity.
You have dug a big enough hole already.....