Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not Sorry today

I saw early this morning that today’s Federal Parliament Sorry speeches were going to be a very emotional event. I’m not sorry to have witnessed this momentous occasion. I was delighted to note that all free to air TV stations here carried the full coverage of the speeches.

Rudd himself, is still a grey version of Harry potter. His speech was quiet, no soaring rhetoric, no emotional show, just a well presented and argued apology. Though he did echo Obama type concepts; particularly the post-partisan solution to thorny problems.

Rudd took the challenge right up to the conservative opposition and proposed a commission to address the realities of overcoming the continuing shortcoming in dealing with aboriginal social problems. Including the fact that infant mortality is four times that of the rest of the population and life expectancy some 17 years shorter.

The proposal is that the Prime Minister and Opposition leader jointly chair this commission to determine a non partisan approach to delivering solutions. But in the end Rudd amazed me again by delivering this first step without histrionics, without flowery rhetoric and without qualification.

I almost felt sorry for Brendan Nelson, opposition leader. He seemed to be caught between a rock and a hard place. His body language and his words where he felt safe to insert them, spoke of a deep personal understanding. That was all overshadowed by the need to satisfy his conservative coalition, to modify the apology with excuses.

Outside broadcast teams reported that many of the thousands watching on strategically place big screens literally turned their backs on Nelson. I guess the lesson for poor Brendan is that you are not a leader if you must follow the party rather than the dictates of your heart and mind.

But there was so much that I wasn’t sorry about – like the tee shirts worn by many aboriginal observers with the word thankyou emblazoned across them. Yes is all symbolic, but I believe Rudd put substance into that symbolism. The apology part of the speech, it is worth a read.

Speech by Hon Kevin Rudd MP – Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples (PDF) from Hansard.


I was trying to find out about a suspension of standing orders, because within the chamber were a group of aboriginal leaders and former Prime Ministers. Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating were evident, but no John Howard. Johnnie didn’t show up.

Some current coalition members had also left the chamber rather than show a semblance of decency. Just for a record of history conservatives: Wilson Tuckey, Alby Schultz, Don Randall and Sophie Mirabella were absented themselves for the apology.

You tube Sorry Speech –


enigma4ever said...

So amazing...and so timely.....I hope the world is changing..

Cart said...

It is indeed wonderful enigma. Here is to a better future.

TomCat said...

This was a classy move on Rudd's part, and the behavior of your conservatives was despicable. I celebrate Australia taking back the reins of government from the extreme right, and hope the US follows suit.

Cart said...

Tom, I started political life as a youngster in the Liberal Party. It was broad then, but I left in the mid 70's when the right started the takeover. The last straw, a battle I won, was the attempt to recruit members to the John Birch Society through branches.
I won that battle but it would have been my last win in that environment. The right was taking over then, it is receding now, but has destroyed a decent party.

Kvatch said...

Yes is all symbolic, but I believe Rudd put substance into that symbolism. The apology part of the speech, it is worth a read.

To echo Tomcat...classy and *canny*. The conservatives have really been put on the spot.

Cartledge... I think you're right. It wasn't a terribly inspired speech, but timely, sincere, and important in a way that cannot be understated.

Cart said...

kvatch, I must be getting senile - ordinary and unadorned was magic. Or perhaps that is what we really need, screw the histrionics and lets get down to business...