The Australian Greens today indicated they support an unreserved apology to the stolen generations, and criticised the Government for moving with 'undue haste' to rule out reparations.
"Bob Brown gave the Australian Greens' unreserved apology in the Senate in 1997."
"The Government's has been a long time coming," said Senator Siewert today.
"We are calling on the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin to undertake an audit of the implementation of the Bringing them Home report and then put to the parliament and the people a plan to comprehensively address its recommendations."
The ALP adopted Chapter 13 of its National Platform at their national conference in June 2007 which provides for 'a comprehensive response to the Bringing them Home report. "I was disappointed that Jenny Macklin moved to rule out a compensation fund before consultations with the stolen generations had even begun, overshadowing the goodwill that would accompany a national apology," said Senator Siewert.
"The Bringing them Home report clearly indicated that dealing with issues of the loss and hurt caused by the trauma of forced removal is a necessary step in the healing process and a major social determinant of poor-health. It is not a case of either/or in dedicating funding to 'close the gap' on Indigenous health."
"This new era government has an opportunity to repair the mistakes of the past, but there is still a long way to go. The real test for the Rudd government will be how they tackle the issue of national and regional representation," she concluded.
Bob Brown's 1997 speech to the Senate is attached.
Database: Senate Hansard
Speaker: Brown, Sen Bob (AG, TAS)
SEPARATION OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILDREN FROM THEIR FAMILIES
Senator BROWN (Tasmania)(4.50 p.m.)
I add unreservedly from the Australian Greens an apology to the Aboriginal people and, in particular, to those directly and indirectly affected as the stolen generations. There is no way we can express the awful tragedy at an individual and community level this policy wrought upon the indigenous peoples of this country. There is now an opportunity for us to reconsider and move into the future with an open heart and with the recognition that that past should never again be allowed. The way we can ensure that that past never be allowed again is by continually revisiting it as part of our history, as part of Australian history, that can never again be submerged.
The stolen generation's saga affects every corner of this country. It affects the Aboriginal people of Tasmania as it affects the Aboriginal people elsewhere around the country. We must move beyond the period of apology, if we get there-and that is an apology unreservedly required from the elected leader of this nation, the Prime Minister (Mr Howard), on behalf of the nation, to reparations as yet to be determined. It is a task for us all to undertake toward a future in which we draw strength from the unity and diversity of this nation and from the enormous wealth of this nation's indigenous peoples and their culture, and their affinity for the vast lands of Australia.
It is imperative that we make that journey. On Monday, a great opportunity was blighted by the cavilling and conditional words of the Prime Minister. It was a moment of potential, positive, historic landmarking. It was a moment that was failed by the Prime Minister. It is an opportunity that rarely comes but, nevertheless, as he will know from the response he has had nationally and not just from the meeting in Melbourne, it is incumbent on him now to find the opportunity in the near future to do what he failed to do adequately on Monday. I will be amongst the many millions of other Australians who will support him, if he rises to that moment in the near future.
For now, I support the opposition amendments. It is imperative that we move to adopt the conclusions of this report. It is important that we move to heal as best we can so this country can move forward united and proud of the path we have put a light on into the next century.