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Should Howard say sorry?

Discussion in 'Australian & New Zealand' started by Nooj, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. Yes

  2. No

Multiple votes are allowed.
Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Nooj

    Nooj Senior Veteran

    +135
    Other Religion
    AU-Greens
    Should PM Howard say sorry to the indigenous peoples of Australia?
     
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  2. John Spong is wrong

    John Spong is wrong Regular Member

    440
    +29
    Baptist
    Single
    AU-Greens
    Yes!

    He should abolutely. His reason for not doing so is pathetic - on Sky News he stated that "on balance, I find that the history of white settlement has been positive". Kind of like saying that "on balance, the history of Germany's race relations has been positive", and then using that as an excuse for not apologising to the Jews.

    Little Johhny's usually a master media manipulator but on occasions his (real) ugly side comes out like it did on Sky News. Our (soon to be ex-PM) John Howard - still as racist as ever . . . :sigh:
     
  3. MOTHY

    MOTHY Guest

    +0
    I'm becoming a little tired of the overuse and misuse of the term 'racist'. After all, it can only be used by some sections of the community to accuse only one section of the community. When it applies to all, equally, then it will carry some credence, but not until then, I'm afraid.
     
  4. norbie

    norbie Veteran

    +59
    Anglican
    Married
    To be honest, I voted 'no'. Not that I am a racist, as you know I am married to an Indian wife and lived for 16 years in Arnhem Land together with the Aboriginals. The reason I said 'no' is because now it's political only and as soon a government says 'yes', lot's of compensation money will be claimed.
     
  5. lmnop9876

    lmnop9876 Well-Known Member

    +212
    Christian
    Private
    ^ Norbie:
    The amount of compensation required should never be a disincentive to any person or organisation to apologise for their past wrongs.


    I think that Howard should make a personal apology for the wrongs against Indigenous peoples that he has participated in as part of his role in the political sphere. Many other senior politicians should also make similar apologies, as they have participated in Governments or policy making bodies that allowed or encouraged policies that created disadvantage for Indigenous people, including outcomes such as the stolen wages of thousands of Indigenous people across the nation, which continued well into Howard's time in parliament, and the Stolen Generation, which, however well-meaning it may have been and however many positive outcomes it may have had for individual Indigenous people, denied thousands of Indigenous children their cultural heritage and contact with their real families, was the result of a racist assimilationist policy which assumed that Western culture was a superior culture for those children to be raised in, and which led to the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of thousands of Indigenous children. For policies such as these, Howard and others should make a personal apology.

    That said, as an Aboriginal person, I do not think that the Federal Government (rather than politicians personally) should say sorry. There's two kinds of sorry. There's "we're sorry that we did this." and there's "we're sorry that this happened to you." Given that the Parliament is dissolved before each election, I do not think that it is the right or responsibility of a current or future Parliament to assume guilt on the behalf of a past Parliament or Parliaments and give the first "sorry." In additon, sorry implies guilt, which in turn implies conscience, something which a transitory Parliament cannot be said to maintain over time. The second "sorry" is of absolutely no value to Aboriginal people whatsoever, and sure, the Government, whether Labor or Liberal, can give that if they like, but, a. it sounds like patronisation and sympathy to me, and, b. it will have no practical benefits for Aboriginal people in terms of achieving self-determination and equal living standards to other Australians.

    What I do think is needed is an official statement from the Government that expresses (though is not limited to) the following:
    a. Recognition of the fact that Indigenous people were here first and have special rights as the original inhabitants of this country.
    b. Recognition of the fact that European settlement in this country was not, for the most part, peaceful, but was invasive and ignored the rights of Aboriginal peoples.
    c. Recognition of the fact that thousands of Aboriginal lives were lost through violence, introduced diseases, and the ongoing effects of European policies regarding Aboriginal peoples.
    d. Recognition and regret for the fact that the Australian nation for 67 years did not give Aboriginal people the rights of citizens of this country.
    e. Recognition and regret of the fact that Federal Government policies were created that directly and unfairly targeted Aboriginal people, and, although perhaps well-intentioned, were often carried out in an unfair or harmful manner by unscrupulous officials and employees of the Federal Government.
    f. Recognition and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples to maintain their own cultures, to maintain links to, ownership of, and control over their traditonal lands, and the right to determine how best and most effectively to deliver services (including, but not limited to health, education & training, justice, housing, and employment) to Aboriginal people, particularly those living on Aboriginal lands.
    g. Recognition of the fact that while the regretful events of the past have occurred, it is time now to put the past behind us, learn from our mistakes, and move forward as a united, reconciled nation, where oneness does not have to mean sameness, where all cultures are welcomed and respected, and where we all work together for the betterment of this country in a spirit of respect, national pride, and unity.

    When this occurs, we will all be able to truly sing "Advance Australia Fair."
     
  6. lmnop9876

    lmnop9876 Well-Known Member

    +212
    Christian
    Private
    fwiw, I have assumed that the poll refers to John Howard in his official role as the Prime Minister of Australia enabling legislation that expresses the government's desire to say sorry to Aboriginal people, and thus have voted no.
     
  7. Nooj

    Nooj Senior Veteran

    +135
    Other Religion
    AU-Greens
    Well, yes I did mean a governmental apology. It doesn't have to be a 'we're sorry'. That would be indeed ridiculous. We can't be sorry for something we didn't do. But how about a 'we're sorry that our ancestors did this to you?'.

    And who cares about the compensation? It's exactly the same excuse that the Japanese government uses to not pay 'comfort' women.

    If not now, then when are we going to get a sorry?
     
  8. GodsoldierClintus

    GodsoldierClintus Veteran

    +77
    Agnostic
    Single
    Yes
     
  9. lmnop9876

    lmnop9876 Well-Known Member

    +212
    Christian
    Private
    People shouldn't have to assume guilt or be made to feel guilty for what their ancestors have done. Aboriginal people don't need sympathy. We need recognition and respect and a willingness on the part of mainstream Australia to work together to reconcile our differences and create a nation where Aboriginal people are empowered to participate in a united future that respects and acknowledges all of our past heritage and respects and works on the basis of our rights as the Indigenous peoples of this country.
     
  10. MOTHY

    MOTHY Guest

    +0
    So, if a meaningful and sincere Sorry is said, and compensation is paid (incidentally, I agree with this) will the Aboriginal people get on with their lives and make a meaningful contribution to society, as is expected of every other citizen of this country? Or will they continue as they have done in the recent past, blaming every one else in this generation while excusing themselves from all responsibility? I'm sorry but it has to be said.
     
  11. Nooj

    Nooj Senior Veteran

    +135
    Other Religion
    AU-Greens
    That's a rather cynical view, one that I disagree with. It's the government's job to look after Aboriginal health and education, and historically the federal government has just failed them. Only recently have they bothered to fix up alcohol and sex abuses.

    Saying sorry won't solve much, if anything. Aboriginal people are still going to be more disadvantaged than any other Australian group. But I don't think anyone has claimed that saying sorry will fix all their problems. Saying sorry is largely a symbolic measure. It needs to be done, by the nation (or the government representing the nation) as a whole. Reconciliation can only take place once we acknowledge what previous governments did, and then we came move on. Hopefully.

    Would the Jewish people have healed as much as they have (which is to say not at all) about the Holocaust if the Germans didn't say sorry? It's just two words and a heft price tag if Aboriginal people decide to take the case up. But it needs to be done. If not now, then when? If never, then how can we ever heal the big gaping hole in Australia's past?
    Is there anything wrong with sympathy and compassion?

    "I'm sorry that previous governments did horrible things to the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia."

    I don't understand how that could be seen as an admission of guilt.
     
  12. lmnop9876

    lmnop9876 Well-Known Member

    +212
    Christian
    Private
    It's not an admission of guilt. It is the patronising sympathy that I dislike. If it's not your fault, why are you sorry for it? We don't need people, let alone the Government, to feel sorry for us. We need people to recognise us and respect us and our rights as the original inhabitants of this country. Acknowledge the past, yes. Express regret for what has happened in the past, yes. Show a desire to work together for the future, yes. But sympathy is not going to get us anywhere at all.
     
  13. MOTHY

    MOTHY Guest

    +0
    and that, PJW is exactly what I am trying to express, Thank You. Respect earns dignity. Dignity deserves respect. Respect can only be earned.
     
  14. lmnop9876

    lmnop9876 Well-Known Member

    +212
    Christian
    Private
    That wasn't really my point. All Australian people, and the Government officially, should recognise and respect Aboriginal people as the original inhabitants of this country, regardless of whether or not they feel we have earned their respect. Besides the fact that they should respect us as fellow human beings, we should have also earned their respect by virtue of the fact that they are living on and benefiting from our lands. The fact that this basic respect and acknowledgement has not been given to Aboriginal peoples has led to the loss of dignity and to many of the problems that plague Aboriginal peoples today. These effects are now so deep-seated and rooted in Aboriginal society that it will take a lot of time, effort, and resources on the part of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians to correct them and empower Aboriginal people to take charge of our own destiny and participate more fully in the united future of this country.
     
  15. tigercub

    tigercub unbelievably fluffy Supporter

    +216
    Christian Seeker
    Married
    Completely agree!

    I like that Howard avoids prolonging the victimization of the Aboriginal people (it helps no one) I don't like his apparent refusal to recognize that yes some really cruddy stuff happened to the Indigenous people....or that in his recent rework of 'Australian History' (to be taught to school students) he completely missed a few major events in Australian history, such as;

    1830 Tasmanian Aborigines are forcibly moved to Flinders Island.

    1869 Victoria introduces legislation allowing the government to remove any Aboriginal child from their family.

    2000 More than 150,000 Australians take part in a walk for reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge.


    I suppose a nice way of explaining JH's missed bits of history is that he 'forgot' (gone a bit senile perhaps)but it would probably be more truthful to describe it as his attempt to repaint this country's hisory a nice clean shade of white.

    (JH forgot a few other events too, such as the Eureka Stockade and Cyclone Tracey:doh:)
     
  16. Blessed-one

    Blessed-one a long journey ahead

    +169
    Protestant
    Single
    respect for Aborgines and recognition of them as the original inhabitants of the land are not reality in Australia. Many people think the terrible past done to the Aborigines happened a long time ago, but in fact it happened only in the older generation! the gap of knowledge is astounding, and it makes you wonder just exactly what is taught in high school history and How that is taught.

    we've the best people reviewing the history curriculum and here Howard's sticking his nose in where he doesn't belong, bringing in a bunch of people and having to do things HIS way. It's all about politics. ahhhh, I absolutely can't stand that! we should be walking on the Harbour bridge protesting over it!
     
  17. Neenie1

    Neenie1 Senior Veteran

    +150
    Christian
    Married

    Yes I agree 100% on this.

    The problem is that most "white" Australians - myself included, really have no idea of where to begin. I know that a lot of what happened in the past was wrong, but I didn't have anything to do with it, so I really don't know where to begin.

    I guess teaching our children to respect other people simply because they are people and deserve to be respected, not because of their race, religion or anything except they are people made by God and deserve respect, goes a long way towards it.
     
  18. GodsoldierClintus

    GodsoldierClintus Veteran

    +77
    Agnostic
    Single
    I think actually making it compulsory to learn Aboriginal history is important. I remember when we did as part of Modern History and everyone just groaned...

    Well so we should...we should be ashamed of what was done to them in the past. We should at least recognise and acknowledge what happened at teach it.
     
  19. Neenie1

    Neenie1 Senior Veteran

    +150
    Christian
    Married

    I thought Australian history taught in schools was compulsory? Even my son's kindergarten class did a unit on indiginous Australians, I don't know that it was extensive (obviously not considering we're talking about 5 and 6 year olds)
     
  20. EnemyPartyII

    EnemyPartyII Well-Known Member

    +809
    Catholic
    In Relationship
    No. The Howard government is not responsible for the actions of any government before it.

    Howard should do his best to improve in aboriginal welfare and strengthen recoinciliation... however, saying sorry is not up to him, because he is not guilty of the infractions he would be apologising for.
     
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