Stolen Generation Apology
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Stolen Generation Apology from the Australian Government will be the first item of business when Parliament resumes, but support from a divided Opposition remains far from assured.
Thousands of Aboriginal children were literally 'stolen' from their families and given to white families in order to assimilate the two races, for many years it has been covered up by the Australian Government, until recently with the release of the movie titled "Rabbit Proof Fence" and more so a recent land mark court case, where an Aboriginal man was awarded a claim against the Government for the so called 'Stolen Generation Acts'
The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, announced yesterday the apology would be delivered when Parliament first sat on February 13. It would be in the form of a motion to the House of Representatives.
Local Ngunnawal people would for the first time be represented at the ceremony to open Parliament on the Tuesday with an elder, Matilda House, delivering the welcome to country.
Ms Macklin said she hoped the motion would receive bipartisan support but made it clear Labor would use its superior numbers to drive it through regardless.
"The apology will be made on behalf of the Australian Government and does not attribute guilt to the current generation of Australian people," she said.
Ms Macklin said the wording was not ready and that the former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser, a patron of the Stolen Generation Alliance, was among those who had been consulted.
The announcement was welcomed by those who had been pushing for an apology, which the former Howard government refused to countenance.
"I just ask all Australians to think about the significance of it and to imagine how they would feel if their own children had been taken away simply because of the colour of their skin," said the chief executive officer of Reconciliation Australia, Barbara Livesey.
The Coalition will decide its position at a two-day partyroom meeting next week. The Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, restated yesterday he wanted to see the wording of the apology before making a decision, but remained reluctant to support it.
His indigenous affairs spokesman, Tony Abbott, believed "there was no conceivable wording that is going to satisfy resolute activists without deeply upsetting many other people".
However, if the apology acknowledged it was wrong to make welfare decisions based on race, then "that's a perfectly reasonable statement", he said.
However, the apology must differentiate between those who were stolen from their families and those who were "rescued" or "helped", he said.
Malcolm Turnbull supports an apology, but a fellow frontbencher, Joe Hockey, said there should be no apology for those "taken from their families justifiably".
Mr Rudd again ruled out any compensation offer yesterday and he has stressed the apology would be on behalf of past Commonwealth governments and only to Aborigines who were removed due to their race.
Michael Anderson, a founder of the Aboriginal tent embassy in Canberra, said the apology should acknowledge that past government policies were aimed at "the complete annihilation of a race of peoples".
The Stolen Generations Alliance co-chairman, Christine King, said the key element was the word "sorry". Ms King fought tears as she spoke of the importance of Ms Macklin's announcement. "This is a historic moment, not just for Aboriginal people but for Australia," she said. "It's Australia standing up as a nation and saying, 'We've come of age."'