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Bigotry still shades hope

By Stephen Hagan - posted Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Kevin Michael Rudd, MP, 26th Prime Minister of Australia, said on February 13, 2008:

Until we fully confront that truth, there will always be a shadow hanging over us and our future as a fully united and fully reconciled people.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he has what it takes to lead this country well into the second decade of the new millennium after his memorable performance on the floor of the House of Representatives on February 13.


Don’t just take my words for it - it would appear our new Prime Minister has created a tsunami style wave of unparallel support that literally swept the nation up in its path for audaciously saying “sorry” to the stolen generation in federal parliament.

Shamefully, his predecessor, John Howard just couldn’t bring himself to say that five-letter word during his eleven-year reign in the top job.

Sorry, a word finite in dimension but colossus in newfound popular appeal will remain in the conscience of Australians as the single phrase that exposed Howard for the bigoted person he was and the dogmatic, insignificant person he has become. He will not be recorded favourably in the cultural pages of Australian history.

The fact that Howard was the only living Prime Minister who didn’t accept an official invitation to attend the historic occasion in the nation’s capital speaks volumes on how out of touch he really is, on this issue in particular, and Indigenous issues broadly.

Voter satisfaction rating published in The Australian just six days after the address gave the visionary Member for Griffith a new high of 68 per cent, allowing him to open the biggest lead over an Opposition leader (Nelson at 9 per cent) in the history of Newspoll.

Another poll conducted by Galaxy and published in the Sydney Morning Herald on February 18 asked 1,100 people aged 16 and over whether they agreed or disagreed with the Government's decision “to say sorry” also confirmed the growing trend of support in favour of the Prime Minister.


The poll illustrated the shift in views was stronger among men than women. In early February, only 51 per cent of men agreed with the apology but that rose to 66 per cent at the weekend. The change among women was 59 per cent to 70 per cent.

The increased support was across all states and the numbers of those who "strongly agreed" with the apology rose from 31 per cent to 41 per cent.

I believe the Sorry address will go down in history as one of the most influential and authoritative parliamentary orations of all times.

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About the Author

Stephen Hagan is Editor of the National Indigenous Times, award winning author, film maker and 2006 NAIDOC Person of the Year.

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