Wednesday, 13 February 2008

An apology to Australian aborigines

I'm glad this has happened.


Charles Letterman said...

The Australian government has made a formal apology for the past wrongs caused by successive governments on the indigenous Aboriginal population. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, apologised to all Aborigines for laws and policies that "inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss". But the Aborigines want more. They want money and are calling the apology a 'cut-price sorry'.

Back in 1998, in a meeting with Tony Blair, the Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto offered "an expression of deep remorse and heartfelt apology to the people who suffered in the Second World War". But Britain's war veterans wanted more. They had been hoping for an apology from the entire government as well as further compensation on top of that received in 50 years ago.

Two years ago Tony Blair expressed his "deep sorrow" for Britain's role in the slave trade. But representitives of those with ancestors victimised by the slavery wanted a formal apology (which Blair ruled out) and, of course, financial compensation.

So what's the point? Most country's governments have been violent and oppressive at some time in their history. Where does the guilt stop?

In fact, all of these apologies are meaningless. The groups are obviously resigned to their martyrdom, and nothing short of a financial pay-out will really satisfy them. And no modern day leader has the right to apologise for wrongs committed by previous generations anyway, however horrific.

My suggestion is that these powerful governments concentrate on dealing with the poverty and oppression happening around the world this very minute, rather than worrying about past misdemeanours that are cemented into history, and impossible to correct.

Anonymous said...

Me too, Gordon, me too!!

The writer above confuses guilt and apologising .. they don't have to be bound together, To me it was the first sign in a long tiem that Australia is able to deal with the facts of history and now we have many more steps to take ... we have made a start, and if symbols are unimportant, why do we celebrate Anzac day? Why do we react strongly to the sight of certain flags, certain footby team colurs, etc? Like it or not, great wrongs were done - we need to grab this momentum, now that most of us are facing in the same direction, and take the other necessary steps. What a gloomy gus ol' Charles Blackman is!

Gordon Cheng said...

'Letterman' I think you mean, but I do like the expression 'gloomy gus'!