Good on you, Melbourne…

For those who didn’t know, the newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has formally apologised to Aboriginal Australians for the last two centuries of mistreatment.

The current opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, who has taken the place of John Howard (the man famous for refusing to apologise) as head of the Liberal Party, has somehow gotten to speak after the apology.

It was broadcast on the big TV screens at Federation Square, and, according to ABC news reports on the Apology,

“In Federation Square about three-quarters of the crowd turned their back on Dr Nelson.”

I am impressed. Was anyone there?

11 Comments so far

  1. Brett (unregistered) on February 13th, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

    No … wish I had been now. I never seem to think of these things beforehand!


  2. Neil (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 10:48 am

    I was surprised that not one media outlet showed any dissenting opinion about the apology. There are many including our former PM who were against saying sorry.I’m glad it has helped the "Stolen Generation" alleviate some pain.

    Its too bad Nelson was booed as he attempted to put forward some facts such as some Aborginals were abandoning half-caste children or abusing them, thus leading to adoption by white familes.

    I suppose it doesn’t matter what facts you want to believe, saying sorry is always good.


  3. Matt (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 11:22 am

    I believe the media was referring to Federation Mall which is in Canberra. It got a huge response, and if you haven’t seen the apology it’s well worth watching, it’s available on the abc website.


  4. Marc (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 10:02 pm
  5. dissembly (unregistered) on February 16th, 2008 @ 4:19 pm

    "I was surprised that not one media outlet showed any dissenting opinion about the apology."

    Seeing as that’s pretty much all we heard for the last ten years, I’m not that concerned.

    "Its too bad Nelson was booed as he attempted to put forward some facts such as some Aborginals were abandoning half-caste children or abusing them, thus leading to adoption by white familes."

    What did his facts have to do with the apology, or the stolen generations, or the historical massacres, or the stealing of land, or any of the issues tied to ‘reconciliation’?

    That’s a bit like a German government minister saying "Oh, but while i halfheartedly apologise, we cannot forget that at least some of the Jews we executed in concentration camps *did* actually commit crimes." Like a ten-year old in the schoolground’s version of an apology: "I’m sorry… that you’re a loser!"

    It makes it into a backhanded apologetic rather than an actual apology, don’t you think?


  6. Neil (unregistered) on February 16th, 2008 @ 11:50 pm

    Yep, but he is of the opposing government, his job is present an opposing view even though he reluctantly agreed to the apology.

    I think its easier for people to stick their heads in the sand and just accept that the Australian government removed 100,000 Aborginal children from thier homes. Instead, no one once to hear historical desent, that that actual number is exagerated.

    " also found that, although popular songs and the Bringing Them Home report gave the distinct impression that most children were removed when they were babies or toddlers, there were hardly any in this category. The archive files on which Read relied show that between 1907 and 1932, the NSW authorities removed only seven babies aged less than 12 months, and another 18 aged less than two years. Fewer than one-third of the children removed in this period were aged less than 12 years. Almost all were welfare cases, orphans, neglected children (some severely malnourished), and children who were abandoned, deserted and homeless.

    The other two-thirds were teenagers, 13 to 17 years old. The reason they were removed was to send them off to be employed as apprentices. In reality, the NSW Labor governments were not stealing children but offering youths the opportunity to get on-the-job training, just like their white peers in the same age groups. "
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23182149-28737,00.html

    In all due respect David,I think comparing this to the killing of 6 million people is a bit deplorable.


  7. dissembly (unregistered) on February 17th, 2008 @ 11:22 am

    "his job is present an opposing view even though he reluctantly agreed to the apology."

    Well his job is technically to present his own view, and the views of his electorate, and to cast votes on legislation – not to oppose the government for the sake of opposing it. Speaking at the apology isn’t in his job description at all; he could’ve written a letter-to-the-editor, or made a post in his blog, like the rest of us. I still would’ve disagreed with him, though.

    "Instead, no one once to hear historical desent, that that actual number is exagerated."

    Exagerated by whom? Most historians accept the injustices associated with the "Stolen Generation" as a historical reality. The truth is, most people wouldn’t even know the name Keith Windschuttle if his views hadn’t seemed so tasteful to the former Prime Minister.

    "The reason they were removed was to send them off to be employed as apprentices. In reality, the NSW Labor governments were not stealing children but offering youths the opportunity to get on-the-job training, just like their white peers in the same age groups."

    So they were forcibly removed, against their will, and packed off into a situation that we would never tolerate for ourselves or our own children, ‘for their own good’. There’s nothing new about that sort of claim. It’s the same logic that has been used to sterilise low-IQ poor people in Scandinavia and America, to shut South African blacks away in their own private Bantustan, and to economically demolish the Iraqi state infrastructure after the fall of Hussein.

    I don’t think their motives are disputed. it’s their actions that were the problem.

    "In all due respect David,I think comparing this to the killing of 6 million people is a bit deplorable."

    You’re evading my point (in a pretty deplorable way). The comparison is perfectly clear: If you apologise for a historical injustice, you don’t use the apology as an excuse to say "Oh well, *some* of them deserved it." You do that on your own time. I’m not so much concerned with the historical debate (what little there is of it), as I am with the disturbing nature of the fact that people like Brendan Nelson beleive that a historical quibble over wether some of them deserved that treatment is *relevant* to an apology to the people that didn’t deserve it.


  8. Neil (unregistered) on February 17th, 2008 @ 1:23 pm

    I understand what you are saying and the point you are making. But…you are saying there is no historical debate on what happened and that’s where we differ. I don’t think some of them were welfare cases, I think most of them were welfare cases, like 95%. I don’t think it was 100,000 people but in fact a lot less.

    I think because of overinvolvement of Aboriginal affairs, its caused a couter reaction in modern times where we basically don’t do anything.

    My example is simple, take a look at the Aboriginals outside Safeway in Fitzroy/Collingwood. Constant fighting, drinking, abusive language, and begging. Some days their small children and babies are there. In an environment for non Aboriginal, you would probably have a call from Children Services(if thats the name) and a possibility of losing your kids. But in terms of Aborignals we don’t do anything. In the 5 years that I have walked by Safeway, nothing has changed. Police over there on a regular basis, drinking themselves to the point that ambulances are needed, and of course Safeway Liquor selling liquor with no whims about it. People walk by keeping their heads down, ignoring the dire situation which government hasn’t done and won’t do anything about. Wait, Im sorry the government does give out welfare checks each week which are spent on liquor.

    The biggest problem of Aboriginal (and Native Americans) people is alcohol. Howard had a point (maybe his first) when he stated that child abuse in NT Aboriginal communities were running rampant.
    The gov is admonished for doing too much and for doing too little.


  9. spud (unregistered) on February 20th, 2008 @ 10:50 am

    Neil,i think what you have brought up is important and should be one of the priorities in the new action plan by the commitee. thank you for your input…

    but,

    in regards to the apology and the spirit of the day that was echoed around the globe;
    i can’t help but think you have not done the very thing that both Rudd and Nelson mentioned on their apology..

    IMAGINE YOURSELF BEING IN THEIR PLACE…

    have you?


  10. Neil (unregistered) on February 20th, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

    You are right. It is hard to imagine. I can’t even imagine growing up as an Aborginal having to deal with all the issues of today. But yes, if the apology truly helped the Stolen Generation emotionally then it was well worth it.


  11. adrock2xander (unregistered) on February 21st, 2008 @ 2:14 am

    Colleagues of mine were posed this question by me while we’re at work:

    "Would you apologise to the aboriginals, now that the PM has done so?"

    A convincing number of them said they would, as they clearly felt that a big injustice was done to them. These are white Anglo Aussies, whose forefathers were responsible for the heinous crimes inflicted on the Stolen Generation.

    However, a handful of them (all Anglo Aussies) didn’t see it that way and claimed that they weren’t the ones responsible for the aboriginals current plight, so why should they apologise?

    I responded by saying, "Imagine if you were taken away by Aboriginals forcibly from your parents at a young age, and you grew up never seeing them again. How would you feel?"

    None of them had anything intelligent to say after that.

    PS: If anything, Australians on Facebook would have noticed many of their friends would have changed their profile to ‘*Name* is sorry’ on 13th Feb. The aboriginals’ plight is clearly felt by thousands if not millions of Australians.



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