Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Politics of Saying Sorry

The Australian Parliament resumes this week and, on Wednesday 13-Feb-08, it will affirm a motion of sorry to the Stolen Generation. The motion will be an expression of sympathy and acknowledgement of the pain felt by many families after the forced removal of their children.

John Howard steadfastly refuses to attend Parlaiment for the motion - his former MP's probably won't miss him, as they begin to think for themselves, albeit with considerable division.

Kevin Rudd's team is still working on the exact wording, but he has consulted with Brendan Nelson and Aboriginal representatives.

Coalition MP's, long used to John Howard telling what and how to think, have been a rabble. Some, like Julie Bishop, have revereted to "What would John Howard have told me?" Others, like Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Bill Heffernan, believe the proposed apology is overdue, have abandoned their Howard straitjackets, and have been actively lobbying their colleagues.

The Coalition has indicated that some of its MP's and Senators, including Tony abbott, will make statements questioning the term "stolen generation" and stating the good that forced removal of children did. (?) It means the apology is not unanimous and hearfelt by all MP's and Senators - there is a big "But ..." from the Coalition. For the Coalition, at least, "sorry" seems to be the hardest word. Along with unity.

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