Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Apology

Kevin Rudd in Darwin during the election campaign (AAP: Alan Porritt)

Yesterday the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, made history with the following speech. I'm sure you've already heard it and read it, probably more than once, but I wanted to post it here because many of my international vistors (hopefully some of my Australian History students from Houghton Down Under, may not have got it elsewhere. Mungo Macallum has complained that it should have been written by a poet, but he is one, so he would say that. OK so it may have been written by a parliamentary team of speech writers but it is historic, and it is just, and it is a solid foundation for a shared future.

"Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

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.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."


Ross McPhee said...

That would have to be one of the most moving speeches I've ever heard given by an Australian Prime Minister. I pray that this symbolic act will go some way towards healing our nation's soul.

Mr. Imperial said...

Thanks for posting this, Glen. About all I've heard lately is that Rudd became the new PM...boy have I been out of the loop.

Also, were you aware that Josh Walters is coming to Asbury next semester? Your underlings are multiplying here!

Glen O'Brien said...

G'day Charles. No, I hadn't heard Josh was off to Asbury. Good news. Yes, Rudd is our new PM and in my book so far a good one. We'll see how things go but his arrival seems to herald something of a new day for the country as we move away from the Howard regime.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glen!

I finally remembered the link to your blog--after 2 1/2 years! Seriously, it took me 2 1/2 years to remember it. I was unpacking my stuff in my new apartment and came across my Australian History notebook where I stopped to remember and read. Then, hidden in the back, was this address. It's going in my favorites so I don't have to go through that again.

I am so happy to hear/read this speech. I can't believe it happened. I feel like this may be a new beginning in australian internal politics?

Well, I just wanted to say hi and tell you how much I miss all of you down there in good ol' Melbourne. Say hi to Lynda for me.

Take care and God bless-
Becky Hillman (HDU 2005)

sir roger said...

great message by PM Rudd!!!
i was looking through the emails and i saw your blog and thought that i would take a look..since i had nothing else to do....

i miss you all! say hi to lynda!

ruth ives hdu 2007

Glen O'Brien said...

It's great to hear from some former HDU students. I was really hoping some of you would read this speech. You all know how passionate I was about the need for an apology and now it's happened. Australian History in the making!


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