At long last, the vicious (to use Paul Keating’s words… classic!) reign of the Howard Government is at an end. Kevin Rudd and his cabinet don’t seem to have put a foot wrong so far, at least in PR terms. Howard’s failure to make any sort or apology seems mean spirited at least. His explanation that ‘sorry’ and ‘an apology’ are different things (admittedly, he was talking about interest rates here) seems lame at best. The apology has been a triumph for Kevin Rudd, and has left Brendan Nelson with egg on his face. Nelson really had nowhere to turn, his initial, non committal caution gave way to a qualified apology of a dubious nature, but had he refused to support the apology he risked seeming just as out of touch as Howard. Supporting the apology completely might have risked alienating those sections of the community who are offended by it, at least in Liberal perceptions.
I applaud the Rudd Government’s symbolic apology and acknowledge the meaning that has resonated within the indigenous community, but an apology with no compensation is at best a hollow gesture. The stolen generations deserve compensation as was recommended by the courts. Is this nothing more than an apology for an apology? Perhaps we should ask John Howard (sorry…)