Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Good Day to Say Sorry

Laid out before the most powerful institution in the country, the Australian Parliament, 4000 candles flickered spelling out the words ‘Sorry, the first step’ in the evening of 12th February. It was a very moving moment by all accounts and finally at 9:00 this morning, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke to Parliament and delivered his long awaited Sorry Statement. I was quite impressed.

I belong to an organisation of lobbyists called GetUp, normal Australians who collectively are trying to change policy without getting het up about sides and politics. Our voices are represented by this non-partisan lobby group according to the votes of confidence given to them by us, their members. It was they who were responsible for the candle display.

The first candle was lit by Lorna Fejo, a Warumungu woman and member of the Stolen Generations who was taken from her family at 4 years old. As she lit the candle she said, ‘A big relief…at least I’m alive to hear it, I’m one of the lucky ones’.

Her daughter Christine King who was also present said, ‘This is wonderful. It’s bringing the whole nation together like it’s never been before’.

There was a real sense of joy and celebration as people lit the candles, the whole of the press gallery came out from the inside of Parliament to record the moment.

The candles are a symbol of hope but also recognise the darkness they illuminate. The ‘sorry is the first step’ message is much more than just a celebration. It steels our minds for the journey ahead to a reconciled nation. It was really great to see smiling aboriginal faces in both Parliament and on the television today instead of the poverty and sexual abuse that so often makes the tabloids.

We have a long way to go but this first step in reconciliation and the words of the apology now put the onus for reconciliation and fair treatment on both Aborignal people and the rest of the Australian population. It is no longer a one way street. Shan't bore you anymore but I was very impressed with Kevin07's address, it was erudite, heartfelt and I think it did the trick .. should have happened ages ago. Now you Koori people, time to take some responsibility and not just hand outs. Help us to help you solve the endemic problems of poverty, abuse, alcholism, chroming. There is opportunity a plenty for you if you want to grasp it!

So far I like this guy, he's hit the ground running . . . not just with the sorry statement but he cancelled leave over the New Year period to keep ministers and public servants in Canberra nose to the grindstone. He's cutting public service spending, focussing on hospital and work place relations policy.

Hopefully he will forget his stupid tax cuts promise and help people to stop spending. Interest rates went up another .25 basis points the first Tuesday of the month. My mortgage is now teeteringly close to double digits a t9% with the cash rate at 7.00%. How come your mortgage and credit cards is always higher than the interest you can earn? This at a time when the Commonwealth Bank announces a 4% profit rise of $4.2billion! At least their shareholders will be happy . . . their borrowers certainly aren't.


Anonymous said...

It was a good day! That was also a nice take in your post and choice of clip Baino! I'm a Getup member also but a bit behind not knowing they were responsible for the candle display. So far I'm pleased to have voted for the right person ... ...

Baino said...

Yeh, he seems to have started OK. Lets see how he goes on reducing inflation! If you weren't so Anonymous I'd say we need to 'do lunch'! (might be difficult given that we're obviously welded to our PC's) Hahaha! Watching birds in Centennial park of course! Register for their newsletter and they'll email it direct.

Grannymar said...

I listened to speech and interviews during my wakeful hors last night.

I was moved to tears by the personal stories.

Baino said...

GM: Yes, very sad but as I've said before, it wasn't just an Australian policy and you've experienced similar in Ireland I believe. At least it's a step towards reconciliation and was well received by the Aboriginal community. You have wakeful hours too? 3:30am and I'm a sparky duck!

Brianf said...

I don't get it. Really I don't. So the current govenment has apologized for the actions of the past, Ok. Other than being symbolic what good comes of it?
I know it's not the same thing but it smacks of the reparations for slavery that a small minority of blacks here are calling for. Is the govenment now going to throw millions of your dollars at the abo community to make everyone feel good or is there some thing substantial in the works to actually make a difference?
As to your last two paragraphs, cutting public spending and tax cuts sure sounds like a good economic stimulus package to me. Why would you be against it?

Baino said...

Brianf: The apology was long sought after and well received and the symbolism is very real and strong. There will be no more reparations to the aboriginal population who have been treated abyssmally since the invasion. They are eligible to receive many benefits, it's more a gesture of acknowledgement for their displacement which has never been officially admitted. The blacks in the US deserve the same. Problem being many have emigrated to the US which has diluted their origins. No money, just an apology for being ripped from their homelands. Although in the litigious US that would be a sitting time bomb!

Here it's not an admission of modern guilt but a recognition that our forebears did things the wrong way. Listen to the speech, it's good.

What gave you the idea I'm against cutting public spending? Quite the contrary, it's the only way to control our inflation rate and allow the Reserve Bank to reduce interest rates. I'm against tax cuts but they were an election promise so the new Government will dish them out.

Baino said...

Oh and Brian, the US apology should also extend to your indigenous people.

Anonymous said...

'Sorry' is just a word. Easy to say, especially for a politician.

To redress a grievance, the abuser must give up something valuable and tangible. EG: A life, freedom, property. Until that happens, this gesture is so much feel-good cant.

Baino said...

Anonymous: Please ID yourself!

This is the beginning of redressing the grievances. Much has been 'given up' or more appropriately 'given back' to the indigenous population but there is more to do. "This gesture is so much feel-good cant" Not sure if you're sparing me the 'c' word - this phrase doesn't make sense?