Australian parliament to apologise to Stolen Generations

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Australian parliament will apologise tomorrow for past mistreatment of Australia's indigenous population. The wording of the apology will be revealed after 5pm AEDT (UTC+11) today, and will be read in parliament tomorrow at 9am AEDT.

Opposition leader Brendan Nelson has given in-principle support to an apology, but has criticised the government for the delay in releasing the wording. He has written his speech without seeing the apology.

"If Mr Rudd wants to unify Australia, to bring our nation together, the most important person he should be negotiating with is me," Mr Nelson said yesterday. "We're two days away from this, for goodness sake. He should be sitting down with me and saying 'these are the words which we propose, what do you think?"

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that the words must be tabled to parliament first.

The Government's manager of business, Anthony Albanese, said that it was more important for members of the Stolen Generations to approve of the apology. "Quite frankly, what's important is the people most affected are comfortable with that wording," he said.

In an opinion piece in today's The Sydney Morning Herald, Tony Abbott defended John Howard's legacy. "Its refusal to say 'sorry' meant that Howard never received the credit he deserved for groundbreaking policies such as the intervention in Northern Territory Aboriginal townships," Mr Abbott wrote. "The Liberal Party's decision to support an apology to stolen children is not a repudiation of John Howard. It should help us to defend a key part of his legacy, the Northern Territory intervention, and to pursue good policy without accusations of bad faith."