This post is being continually updated with links to commentary on the Apology
Today, for the first time, indigenous people performed a Welcome to Country ceremony at the Opening of the Parliament of Australia. Kevin Rudd’s hope is that this innovation of the 42nd Parliament will become a permanent Parliamentary tradition. I heard some of the speech of the Ngambri elder Matilda House Williams on the radio, and was deeply moved by her simple telling of how an indigenous man who attended an early parliament in traditional dress was asked to leave as he was not dressed “properly”, yet here she was barefoot beside the Prime Minister, both honouring the other.
The full text of tomorrow’s Parliamentary apology to the Stolen Generation is here. Excerpt:
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 fathers, the brothers and 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.
ABC News Online will stream Kevin Rudd’s apology from 8:55am AEDT on Wednesday. The apology will also be broadcast on ABC TV and ABC Local Radio.
I plan to add a roundup of posts from Australian blogs regarding the apology here over the next few days, and probably a few O.S. reactions as well. If I miss any, please let me know.
UPDATE: The formal apology and the accompanying address from Kevin Rudd were delivered to an attentive chamber and ended with a standing ovation.
“The nation is calling on us the politicians to move beyond our infantile bickering, our point scoring, our mindlessly partisan politics and elevate this one, at least this one, area of national responsibility to a rare position beyond the partisan divide.”
Brendan Nelson’s address failed to rise to either the occasion or to the call for an end to point-scoring. It started well, but later passages led to visitors walking out of the gallery, people outside turning their backs on the screen wherein he was shown, and potentially hijacking the impact of the apology on the indigenous people who have waited for this day for so long.
ABC: Cheers, tears as Rudd says ‘sorry’
SMH: Kevin Rudd says sorry
BBC: Australia Apology to Aborigines
HeraldSun: Nelson comments draw indigenous anger
News.com.au: Britain urged to back Rudd apology
The Age: Time for nation to turn new page
ABC: Nelson missed the point: Keating
AAP: Brown defeated in ‘sorry’ compo bid
The Australian: Lib MP denies Stolen Generations exist
SMH (Saturday): Mike Carlton column
Open apology thread on LP
Rachiel Siewert on Greensblog
Laura at SillsBend
Beth at Sarsaparilla
James Farrell at Club Troppo
The View From Elsewhere