Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd has revealed the full apology that he will read tomorrow to say sorry to the Australian Indigenous peoples. The highlight of the apology was an honest admission with the use of the words “sorry” and “Stolen Generation“.
A few choice words:
“…Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history…”
“…We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history…”
“…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…”
This followed a historic 90-minute opening of the Australian parliament earlier, with the first ever indigenous welcome to the parliament.
Rudd’s initiative of healing the rift that was everpresent between the indigenous people of Australia and the British settlers had been applauded by many, signaling a change from the Howard government who refused to admit the problem. As many people also criticised the exercise as being simply political and the new parliament should be concentrating on other pressing issues. The leader of the opposition party, Dr Brendan Nelson, opposed to the plan, saying that it would induce a “guilt culture” among Australian.
It does make you wonder, why shouldn’t they be guilty?
In any case, it is set to be a landmark in Australian history. You can find out more about the event tomorrow at reconcile.org.au.
Edit: If you’re attending UNSW, a live broadcast will be available at the Clancy Auditorium at 9 am.
Update (13/02/2008): The 960-seating Clancy Auditorium was loaded with hopeful Australians eager to witness a historic event, an apology more than a decade in waiting. The live feed from the Parliament House was preceeded by a presentation by the Nura Gili Indigenous Programs of UNSW.
The packed hall went into a contemplative silence as Prime Minister Rudd delivered his motion. After the 30-minutes delivery, the hall broke into a long applause, echoing the thousands who waited outside the House in Canberra.
However, the same can’t be said for Dr Nelson’s upsetting reply. I could almost feel the chill in the hall.
If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch the video: