Watching: the apology

Update: Here is a link to the text of the formal apology.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd just finished apologising to the Stolen Generations - a symbolic event that has been a long time coming.

It's hard to go into a lot of detail - both his speech and the reply from Brendan Nelson (leader of the opposition) were lengthy - but here are some impressions.

Overall, a beautiful, powerful and worthy speech from Rudd that teared me up a little when the "sorry" words actually came out. He didn't dance around the subject or quibble with the matter, just copped it on the chin on behalf of parliaments and governments past and set forward to make a new and better path.

Rudd generally kept things statesmanlike, just occasionally aiming the odd jab here and there at the former Howard Government's refusal to apologise and on the odd occasion he tried throwing in a little, relatively irrelevant humour when he talked about the way the post-reformation Christian issues were resolved in the way Aboriginal children were assigned churches on the basis of which line they were in.

Brendan Nelson on the other hand started well but then had a total mishmash of a speech which seemed a little laden with dog-whistle politics and slightly lessened the whole day and its focus. He made telling points about how wrong and damaging the child removals were and how important it was to make things right but then insisted on throwing in a series of qualifiers about how the people doing it thought they were doing it for the right reasons and that children were being removed from lives of squalor.

He then went on to imply that many of the problems are their own due to alcohol, language issues, corruption, nepotism and choosing to sit outside the economic mainstream. He also banged out about how we shouldn't condemn the white folk of this age because many of them went to fight in the war?!? Rather missing the point of the whole thing. Throw in a hearty, heavily political defence of the Howard NT intervention and a call for the PM to continue that and you have something that the more you think about it sounds less and less like an apology as you go on.


Oddly enough though, his last line sounded almost like he was putting forward an apology not just on behalf of himself but on behalf of all Australians, so who knows what he's on about.

All in all though, about bloody time.

(I'll try to put video up when I can find some)