Thursday, February 14, 2008




We Australians should mark February 13 - yesterday - on our calendars as a day that should mean more to us than the designated, and celebrated Australia Day in January.

A new government. A new prime-minister, with the guts to use the word 'sorry' to the aboriginal people - specifically to the stolen generation . And I am finally proud.

This is the main excerpt of the Apology speech in parliament:

The full speech is 30 mins, which I'm going to link to on YouTube

I can't imagine that anyone and everyone from around the world would be interested, but given I missed it live, and then, logically, all the evening TV coverage didn't include it in its entirety, I'm marking it here for posterity, for my own records, if you wish, because the speech deals with so much stuff that is spot on. Stuff that really really needed to be said, stuff that brought tears to my eyes... stuff I want my kids to listen to carefully someday.

Here we go, in approx 10min blocks:
Part 1 (the above plus more...)
Part 2
Part 3

I have always been outraged that the previous Prime Minister (the weasel, John Howard) always refused to say sorry on behalf of the parliament for the wrongs of the past. The reason? Bloody-minded conservative semantics. That's all. I had never thought about it, but as Magic B and her mate Sarah point out, it's for the best that he didn't, and that the leader to do it was sincere. Good on you Kevin Rudd, and yes, I hope Howard did choke on his cornflakes.

(And this quote from my Crikey newsletter is priceless:

A lot of Australians said sorry today. Some did not. One most notable Australian --the man who late last year said that an apology to Aboriginal Australians would “only reinforce a culture of victimhood and take us backwards” -- drew attention to himself by staying out of sight. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry for John Howard's insensitivity. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities we say sorry for John Howard's bloody mindedness. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture we say sorry for John Howard's crass indifference.

Magic also summarises my views on the response by the leader of the opposition, Brendan Nelson, who disgraced himself and sullied the day by trying to 'justify' the policies of the past as being 'with the right intentions'. Why am I not surprised that today he is making an issue out of a couple of Rudd's staff who, along with many aboriginal people, appropriately turned their back on his pathetic words.

I hope this is a new beginning. If the speeches above don't move you, or explain it all, perhaps Archie Roach's song 'Took the Children Away' might:


Thanks for writing this Tracey.. This is an issue I have felt very strongly about. I have tried to write about it in the past, but no words seemed to fit.
Yesterday was a day to remember, a day that all Australians can stand up and say - the right thing was done today, we acknowledged a people's pain, we respect them in thier suffering. The fact that the speech caused such a wide spread openly emotional response, demonstrates the importance of parliment saying sorry to our fellow Australians, for us all to hear it, to know that it was delivered with sincerity. I too, am glad that John Howard was in no way involved in this.As for the Archie Roach song - Tracey, it is such a stirring, sad song and has never failed to transform me into a blubbering mess. May we move forward together, as a nation after this historic occassion and continue the course of toward healing.
And you just found exactly the words to fit!!
I missed the speech and only saw what was on the news, but I've printed off the text and plan on reading it on the tram on the way home tonight.

I'll be honest and say I've never really thought much about the whole situation - I've always been irked that people seemed to want the government to apologise for sins of the father type thing, but I realise that that is a very shallow and easy view of things. So I'll read the speech, hopefully be enlightened and maybe I should read a bit more about the stolen generation - me being a head in the sand kind of guy when it comes to these types of things.

It seems to be a day for education as I've just been learning about Taiwan and its relation to mainland China due to a discussion with Chinese co-workers and a Canadian who doesn't know shit but thinks he does.
For someone who says she doesn't like to do political posts 'cause she doesn't do them well, you've done a damn fine job with this one.

Can we expect more? *crosses fingers*
Ah, only because I was able to use you as a resource, MB!

Jebus, no doubt I approach it all from a left wing, latte drinking, chardonnay sipping perspective (except I've never had a latte in my life!)... I'm fully aware that I'm a bit of a bleeding heart who doesn't actually know any aboriginal people! (Well, not any with anything like full blood, or half blood.) I run into 'country people' who harbour very a very "anti" view of aboriginal people, because of the "issues" that you get in many country towns. So what would I know?

Maybe some of my gut reaction is due to units in sociology that I did at college. "Steel axes for Stone Age Australians" is a reading that made a huge impact on me. Basically? The white people fucked up their culture. And that has carried on down the generations.

And don't forget that some of the forced removal of children from parents was happening in the sixties, even into 1970. I was a child then! It's not that long ago!

I've read a few good biographical books as well - Sally Morgan's "My Place" is one such... I'll think of a few others later. Ernie Dingo's wife (white woman marries into aboriginal family) wrote a good book too.

But Kevin Rudd's full speech tells it as it is - you don't really need a lot more. IMHO. Another classic speech was Paul Keatings "Redfern Address". >> You tube link

As for the issue with apologising for 'the sins of the father'.. Say my grandfather had murdered/injured/whatever your grandfather... say, some 40 years ago. Down the track we meet. Of course you know that I had nothing to do with it, but I would suggest that before we could move on with a friendship, we would need to clear the air. And the very least you should expect from me is to hear the words "I'm so sorry for what happened in the past between our families. I know you know that I'm not responsible, personally, but I am sorry nonetheless that it happened. That someone in my family perpetrated this crime against someone in your family...."

I don't have time to extend the analogy right now... but I'm sure you get the picture...

Maybe I will have to get more political with my postings!! LOL
Jebus - start with reading summarised booklet version of The Bringin' them home report. It is a good start. I think you can get it from the Equal Opportunity commision.
My fist knowledge of this issue was Sally morgan's My Place in year 10 English. It moved me significantly.
I would also recommend One blood by John Harris, although it is pretty full on.
Tracey - "latte sipping views" or not, I appreciated the post.
Hi Tracey, great post. I was aware this had happened - though not that it was still going on until the year I was born - but had never given it very much thought until today. I watched both u-tube links feeling pretty emotional. Thanks for illuminating it all for me.

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