Thursday, November 29, 2007

Liberals remain committed to reactionary values

The Liberal Party of Australia has emerged from its massive electoral defeat in the Australia federal elections committed to the reactionary policies that eventually alienated ex-PM John Howard from the majority of Australians of voting age.

Voting is compulsory in Australia, so the election is a genuine national referendum and the Liberals were comprehensively beaten by Labor.

With Howard gone, three, and then just two, candidates emerged for the Liberal leadership.

Mlacolm Turnbull put himself forward as a candidate who would respond to the the new national mood, promising to honour Labor's mandate to scrap WorkChoices and to support an apology to the Aboriginal Stolen Generation. He saw his task as salvaging Liberal electoral credibility.

Former Labor Party member Brendan Nelson rallied the most reactionary wing of the Liberals behind his pledge to opppose the apology and to cling to the Howard legacy on industrial relations.

Nelson just doesn't understand anything but a settler view of Aboriginal issues.

He said: "In my view we have no responsibility to apologise or take ownership for what was done by earlier generations."

"Our generation cannot take personal or generational responsibility for the actions of earlier ones, which in most but not all cases, were done with the best of intentions."

He added, "...Aboriginal people were removed from what were often appalling conditions."

This is the normal trite and racist rubbish vented on talk-back radio and in on-line chatrooms by settler apologists.

"We're not to blame, it was well-intentioned and in any case, we saved them from a lousy life, so if anything, they should be grateful and not demanding that we say sorry!"

I thank a contributor named CoogeeGal for posting this today on On-line Opinion. If you are an overseas reader and are not familiar with the Report on the Stolen Generation, then this might serve as a bit of a condensed version of the full report:

I often read the posts on this site, but have never actually posted before. But I would like to share a story with you.

My mother was born to an Aboriginal woman and a white-Australian man. As such she is black but is not as dark as her family. For the government, this meant that she met all the criteria for assimiliation under the 'White Australia' policy.

Mum lived on a farm, in a timber house with both her parents and her two younger sisters. She was loved, cared for, and had a very happy life.

In early 1966, at the young age of six, two white men pulled up in ute and took my mum. All she can remember of this day was being completely terrified of the two strange men and her mother screaming and crying. Her father was not home at the time. She was only allowed to take her doll, nothing else.

Mum was taken to live with a foster family that lived in a rural town where she was the only Aboriginal person. She was treated like a slave, and was sexually abused on pretty much a daily basis by her foster father until she was finally able to escape at the age of 16. She was also forced to leave school after primary school, because her family wanted her to work in their corner store and told her that an education was wasted on a black girl.

She was not allowed to talk about her life before and was forbidden from trying to find her mother. But she never forgot who she was and remembered her mothers name. Thankfully, years later she was able to find her mum and they were reunited when she was 17.

Mum is now 47, and is still haunted by those years. She has built a wonderful life for herself and has a beautiful family, and every day she amazes me with the strong women that she has become.

It frustrates me when people talk about these things happened in the past. This happened to people who are alive now. How can we pretend that this isn't an issue?

And don't try to tell me that the government thought that what they were doing was right. That is a load of rubbish. This happened because Aboriginal people where considered second class citizens (which is reflected by the fact that they weren't included under the consitution until 1967 and where once classified under the flora and fauna act)and white Australia wanted nothing to do with them.

No one will ever convince me that what happened to my mum was the right thing.

This story can be told by hundreds of Aboriginal people across this country. Some have been stong enough to be able to move on with their lives, but can we really be blame those that aren't as strong and struggle in life today?

An apology by the government and the Australian people is not about accepting resposibility, its about admitting that what happened in the past was wrong. When I talk about this issue to my non-Aboriginal friends, I always say to them 'If I told you my grandmother died, or that I had found out my fiance was cheating on me.....what would you say?'. Without a doubt, they always respond with 'I'm so sorry' or 'Im sorry to hear that'. They aren't taking responsibility for what happened but are expressing their understanding of an awful situation.

I'm very greatful that I knew both by mother and my grandmother growing up, a lot of Aboriginal people today didn't have the same opportunity.


Nelson, and before him Howard, assist in the cultivation of a settler-sympathetic culture in which racism is free to flourish.

Young nungas (Aborigines) in South Australia have created a website to develop and share pride in their heritage, but they have had their page gate-crashed by charmers like Justin Samuels, whose inspired contribution reads: "best nigger is a dead one likes black cunts", and Ricky Goodyear who thought he'd be funny and paste a bunch of "abo jokes".

These are the lumpens who are encouraged by the respectable John Howards and Brendan Nelsons.

The apology to the Stolen Generation must be made, and if the Liberals don't want to be part of it, so much the better!

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