January 30, 2008 | Graham

Sorry split

The Courier Mail reports today that Brendan Nelson’s agreement to an apology to Aborigines for the stolen generation will “split” the Liberal Party (although the only splinter they can find to quote is Wilson Tuckey).
The state governments have all made their apologies, and today The Australian has a run down on when they made them (no link). Out of the six state administrations, only one of them – New South Wales – was Labor. And of the remaining state administrations you’d have to say that most of them were pretty conservative. Apologies were moved by Richard Court (Lib WA), Jeff Kennett (Lib Vic), Bob Carr (ALP NSW), Kev Lingard (NP Qld), Dean Brown (Lib SA) and Rony Rundle (Lib Tas).
It would appear that in the whole of Australia, John Howard was probably the only Liberal leading a government who was opposed at the time to making an apology. Now Howard has gone, you would have thought it would be easy for Nelson, and that the weight of opinion inside the party would be fully with him.

Posted by Graham at 7:32 am | Comments (5) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. It doesn’t matter if the Liberal Party is split. We won’t be seeing them in government for a long, long time.
    What does matter is the gall of the current government saying ‘sorry’ at all.
    Rudd has made it clear that he is apologising on behalf of the government, not the people, particularly those who disagree. How nice of him.
    However, the current government has done nothing wrong, and the apology is quite empty.
    One party cannot apologise to a second party on behalf of a third party.
    The government’s apology is a farce.

    Comment by Leigh — January 31, 2008 @ 10:04 am

  2. Agreed. Although Julie Bishop still seems a bit bolshie. May take a while for the prediliction for wedging to recede.

    Comment by barney — January 31, 2008 @ 10:20 am

  3. I find it difficult to apologise for something that I was not directly responsible for.
    Michael Mansel for example is at least 80% Anglo.He has blue eyes and white skin with a slight hint of his ancestory in his nosrils.Does he look in the mirror and apologise to the 20% of his genetic history that may feel offened?There are many who are enraged victims,with similar European genetics.
    The Romans,Spanish & vikings invaded England and changed it’s cultural,economic heritage.Should someone be apologising for these invasions?Would the Indonesians have been better colonial masters for the Aborigines?The Aborigines have to move on and make the best of what they are now given.Physically it is far easier to live,but there is a psychological mountain to climb, equal to that of Everest.

    Comment by Arjay — February 1, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  4. Arjay,
    The apology is not so much for the invasion/colonisation. It’s for the forced removal of the Stolen Generation. Your argument is flawed because you use other examples of invasion as a focus point when the apology has less to do with invasion and more to do with the Stolen Generation. It be more apt if you used another example of a forced removal, not an invasion.
    As for not wanting to apologise for something you’re not directly responsible for, that’s quite understandable. However, consider this hypothetical: let’s say my father was angry at a close relative of yours and shot him or her. My father doesn’t get arrested for it and walks free. Wouldn’t you be somewhat angry at me (just by associating with my father), even though I had nothing to do with it? Or even possible want me to demonstrate that I distance myself from such a heinous act?
    My point is we do inherit the sins of our forefathers in a small way. That’s a reality. Otherwise, we’d forgive all the mistakes of the past. And it’s noble to repent for such mistakes, rather than pretending they didn’t happen.
    An example is Chancellor of Germany Willy Brandt’s Warschauer Kniefall, where in 1970 he knelt before a Warsaw memorial as a gesture of penance for the actions of the Nazi regime over 30 years ago. He was not directly responsible and such a gesture was very unpopular with most of the German population that he was labelled unpatriotic.
    However, internationally it must have been seen as the right thing to do because he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 and the gesture acted as a small first step to bridge the gap between Germany and Eastern Europe.
    While the Holocaust is very different from The Stolen Generation, my point remains that sometimes in order to move on from mistakes our forefathers make, you have to start with a small gesture as a foundation to build upon, even if you had nothing to do with such past mistakes.

    Comment by Dan — February 3, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

  5. Dan ,I would rather apologise for the “sit down money” the alcohol,neglect via lack of discipline structures that now get interpreted as colonial bastardry.
    Once upon a time aborigines had poorly paid jobs as jackaroos etc,but now they have the well paid decay of drugs and a life without purpose.We have taken from them their most precious asset,a reason to survive and go through all the hardship that every other culture endures in Australia.We have taken from them,the very purpose that makes that makes you and I get up every morning.For that,I will say sorry.

    Comment by Arjay — February 5, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

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