I have added the full version of the Apology speech to the VodPod on the right.
Perhaps the most significant thing to emerge yesterday was this:
THE Federal Government and Opposition have agreed to form a “war cabinet” for indigenous policy, a recognition that yesterday’s apology was just the first step in addressing the social disadvantage plaguing Aboriginal Australia.
In a day that was both historic and controversial, the Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, accepted the offer from the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to form the joint policy commission as both apologised on behalf of the Parliament to the stolen generations.
It is believed to be the first such political union since World War II and one which will ensure political responsibility for indigenous policy would be more evenly spread.
Mr Rudd set his Government the following tasks: to provide every indigenous four-year-old in a remote community with early childhood education within five years; to halve the gap between white and black Australia in literacy, numeracy and literacy within a decade; to halve the infant mortality rates within a generation; and close the life expectancy gap.
“None of this will be easy, most of it will be hard, very hard,” he said. “But none of it is impossible.” Referring to the joint approach with Dr Nelson, Mr Rudd said: “It’s not sentiment that makes history, it’s actions. The nation is calling on us, the politicians, to move beyond our infantile bickering, our point-scoring and our mindlessly partisan politics and elevate at least this one core area of national responsibility to a rare position beyond the partisan divide.
“Surely, at least from this day forward, we should give it a go.”
Mr Rudd and Dr Nelson would be co-chairmen of the commission which has as its first task the goal of providing effective housing for remote communities. It would then develop constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians which would be put to a referendum.
I also note this as part of the moving spirit released yesterday:
The Federal Government’s intention to offer a formal apology to the Stolen Generations when Parliament resumes has been welcomed by Illawarra Aboriginal groups on the New South Wales south coast.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says an apology to the Stolen Generations is needed to help achieve improvements in Indigenous health, education and living standards, but he has ruled out financial compensation.
The chief executive officer of the Nowra Aboriginal Land Council, Sonny Simms, says an apology would be welcomed by members of his family taken away as children, but it is too late for compensation.
However, the chairman of the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council, Roy Kennedy, says compensation should not be ruled out.
“I think there should be, we should really look at the circumstances of what each person has been through, some may not want it, others may need it because of the scarring that they still live with,” he said.
— ABC News
I believe we will work towards a solution to the reparations issue, again I suspect with an eye to the future as being the most needful orientation, but not neglecting the past, even if it is just some compromise solution there. That is for others to work through, and I believe they will. Such matters are more readily addressed in the spirit of the apology.
I feel pity for those reported talk-back radio hosts and callers yesterday, and contempt for the one reported on ABC Local Radio this morning who said the day was a “betrayal of all white Australians”. Actually that is beneath contempt, and if you want to use the word, evil. Others who saw it as “political correctness gone mad” are themselves more than a little mad, in my view. We are moving beyond all that, and not before time.
Forget the carpers. They have nothing to offer. Focus instead on anyone who sincerely wants to move the whole business forward.
At the same time it must be said that those of us interested in history must recall there are HISTORIES here, and stories that may not fit a cartoonish “culture wars” model, but still ought to be told. Some of those histories were clumsily alluded to by Dr Nelson in his speech, but he was not entirely wrong to draw attention to them.
Those very few parliamentarians who boycotted yesterday? Guess they were not missed. That’s the best thing to say about them. The one missing ex-PM? Not missed either…
See also Shalom: sorry. The religious dimension in that post I personally relate to.
Reconciliation and moving forward will not be easy. Someone I know remarked that today grace had passed over our Parliament. Much grace from all of us will be required as hopefully together we live in this land as fellows.
Nor would that offend the secular-minded, I would have thought.