New blog

All new content on my restarted blog is here

Wednesday, February 20

The Australian apology and the BBC

I just read the BBC Sydney correspondent's take on the Australian government's apology to the Stolen Generations on his blog. Nick Bryant is new-ish to town, so I wanted to make a few points to him. But of course I can't. No feedback as blog comments don't work.

So here's what I said, Nick, and maybe from the link back you might pick this up. Sigh.

Nick - and what about the UK? We have never apologised to Aborigines but we have to the Irish and others.

Who started this? Who's the ultimate responsible party? We are and the UK continues to work against indigenous interests internationally. Here is the UK government's attitude:

"The use of the term 'indigenous peoples'... cannot be construed as having any implications to rights under international law".

Ask your colleagues about the Uk establishment's attitude, Nick, and you may be shocked.

Regarding the Rudd apology, it was carefully couched. Compensation is off-the-table as is any talk of genocide - they won't even discuss it but it clearly was cultural genocide and that needs to be understood.

I think this is a late, partial move in the right direction and Labor has bad form with actually sticking up for aborigines - Rudd himself has bad form and certainly needs to do much more before he's Nobel material [some have suggested this]. He could start by bringing the remote aboriginal communities up to the same standard of basic services which their white neighbours enjoy - I have seen for myself what this means in practice and also seen many Australians preferring ignorance about their fellow citizens situation.

[Note: I had a friend in the Northern Territory who was doing round-trips of several hundred kms several times a week for dialysis. Many Aborigines need this but the service isn't there for them because of the legacy of past, racist service provision. Many, many communities lack services, like dialysis, that other Australians take for granted].

When I lived there the ABC showed Frontier, the first real attempt to document the war of occupation. Despite a star-studded narration it got terrible ratings and I very much noted that even my 'right-on' friends didn't watch it. The massacre sites [estimates range up to 1300 with the last documented from 1928 ] remain largely unmarked and unknown or even denied and to my mind this says everything about Australian attitudes.

Confronting the past is hard and the apology is one baby-step only down the road which Australia must take.

Postscript: Weirdly, my comment has now appeared. Despite when posting being given a 502 (error) message. Kindof proving my point with the not so user friendly nature of the BBC's blogs.


Post a Comment