The Australian government today officially apologised to the Aborigine peoples for the centuries of abuse that had been heaped upon them since white settlement in Australia. The recently elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an emotional and heart-felt apology to the indigenous peoples of Australia and pleaded for reconciliation in a genuine and popular outpouring of emotion from both those that were sincerely apologising and those that were being apologised to.
It was a pity, however, that the leader of the opposition, Dr. Brendan Nelson, saw fit to mar the moment with rhetoric that sought to praise the self-righteousness of the whites that tore away so many Aboriginal children from their parents as part of their deliberate plan to commit slow genocide by ‘breeding out’ the black peoples of Australia. The tone and content of Brendan Nelson’s words served only to demonstrate that racism is still alive and well in Australia.
Reinforcing Nelson’s own racist views was the fact that the more die-hard of Australia’s extreme right-wing racist Members of Parliament didn’t even show up for the apology with one of them, Wilson Tuckey, well-known in Australia for his racism and fascist ways, making a point of highlighting his racism by turning up, reciting ‘The Lords Prayer’ in the public gallery out loud and then leaving the chamber where Parliament had gathered for the apology.
The apology is, indeed, a giant step in the right direction but the words of the leader of the opposition and the actions of certain members of the Australian Parliament show that we still have a long way to go before racism in Australia is finally cleansed entirely from its society.