11 Feb. 2008

At Last, The Time Has Come


Tony Abbott is still writing Op-Eds:
"It's rarely acknowledged but no government gave more practical help to Aboriginal people than John Howard's..."
What a colossal wanker. Talk about the "dead heart" of Australia...!

In the same paper's Opinion section, you get a joyous Peter Garrett opening with the words from the Oils' Beds Are Burning:
The time has come...
Suddenly Garrett's rocker past is not verboten any more:
When Midnight Oil took to the stage in our "sorry suits" at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, we felt that saying sorry was so important it transcended the sporting moment. We believed that we needed to square up to our past, that the lack of an apology to Aboriginal Australians was a broken link in the chain to a joined future.

Nearly every single person in that stadium got it.
Rudd's lawyers are working hard to ensure the wording of the apology does not open the door to compensation claims, but Garrett does not sound too worried about that:
[Saying sorry] is a fundamental step towards addressing the hard issues, to moving in practical and comprehensive ways to redress the imbalances and bridge the gaps.
Amen to that. If compensation is what it will take to bring Aboriginal living standards up to par with the rest of the country, give them compensation. If educational and health programs are what's needed, send out teachers and doctors. Whatever it takes.

Sorry is just a word, and it needs to be followed by actions.

But it's obviously been a word that has blocked real action, because it's a word which reflects an attitude of penitence and contrition. And it seems to me that this attitude is really going to be the key to reaching out and bridging the gap.

You cannot sit back in your plush Canberra office and magically "fix" the Aboriginal "problem" with some cynical bit of policy. For over 200 years, our attitude towards Aboriginals has been one of superiority, if not outright contempt. We need to approach Aboriginal Australians as equals, and apologising for our nation's past arrogance (not to mention bloody crimes) is a good first step.