Tuesday, February 12, 2008


PARLIAMENT will apologise for the 'profound grief, suffering and loss' past policies have caused indigenous Australians in an historic motion that will be supported by both sides of politics tomorrow.

The wording of the apology was released today after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd won the support of Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson for the document.

And an indigenous lobby group believes the wording leaves the door open for compensation.

Michael Mansell, a spokesman for the National Aboriginal Alliance, said his group believed the words may indicate that Mr Rudd is open to the possibility of compensation but does not want to spell it out yet.

"The fact that the Prime Minister put in the text that Australia must right the wrongs of the past indicates that action will be taken," Mr Mansell told reporters.

"The fact that these words were used in the text does indicate that the door is open for negotiations and we think there is a real possibility that compensation could come after negotiations, during the passage of this year."

Mr Mansell said he was pleased the word sorry was used several times.

"I think the stolen generation members will be very relieved that that word is finally being used, because, as we know, the previous prime minister refused to use the very word that the victims were looking for," Mr Mansell said.

Overall, he welcomed the wording of the apology, though he said it lacked an explanation of the reason indigenous children were removed from their parents.

Readers can watch online streaming of the historic session of Parliament from 8am tomorrow.

The apology in full:

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed. A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

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