Values Australia had the honour of being invited to attend Saturday’s 10th Annual [tag]Mt Druitt[/tag] [tag]Sorry Day[/tag] walk as a videographer to make a record of the day. So many years ago we had trudged across the [tag]Harbour Bridge[/tag] on the very first march when we were all so hopeful. On that day there was already anger at Mr Howard’s refusal to say “sorry” and we recall the applause when the skywriter wrote Sorry in smoke above the city.
In his speech this year the local member foreshadowed an imminent, important announcement from [tag]Kevin Rudd[/tag] which [tag]Rudd[/tag] made on Sunday when he recommitted Labor to saying sorry. “We will do it,” he said, “and do it quickly”.
In Canberra, also on Sunday, [tag]Lowitja O’Donohue[/tag] said:
The [tag]Prime Minister[/tag] either doesn’t get it or he doesn’t care and I’m not sure which is worse.
There has been a failure of moral authority and ethical leadership in Australia over the last 10 years.
This country is in a position to be a world leader in human rights and social justice. Instead it is, as Aboriginal people would say, a shame job.
But it’s important that we move on. And for some, until they hear the word ‘sorry’ they won’t move on.
She is so on the money. There has indeed been “a failure of moral authority and ethical leadership in Australia over the last 10 years” and not just in Aboriginal Affairs but in almost every area of political life where it really matters.
[tag]John Howard[/tag], of course, refuses to change his mind on saying “sorry”. Refuses yet again, in other words, to listen. True to form.
“I have always held the view that the best way to help the [tag]indigenous[/tag] people of this nation is to give them the greatest possible access to the bounty and good fortune of this nation and that cannot happen unless they are absorbed into our mainstream.”
What [tag]Howard[/tag] is advocating is the sort of paternalism that characterised the [tag]Aboriginal Protection Board[/tag]s who stole mixed race children in order eventually to integrate them into white society, or the political ignorance of the [tag]Aboriginal Assimilation[/tag] Policy of the 1950s.
The Mt Druitt walk was great. Entertainment, notably by a teenager named [tag]Nelly Dargan[/tag] who has an amazing voice, a puddle of hands, traditional aboriginal dancing and ceremonial smoking. What was amazing was to see the aboriginal people and others as they walked past and through the smoke wash it up onto themselves and to fan it onto their children.
The question is, why was this the only Sorry Day “celebration” anywhere in [tag]Australia[/tag] this year?