Introduction: Colonial grievances, justice and reconciliation
SourceJournal of the Polynesian Society, 121, 2, (2012), pp. 111-127
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Journal of the Polynesian Society
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
On the morning of Wednesday, 13 February 2008, we were standing alongside thousands of others in the grounds of the Australian parliamentary complex in Canberra (Gemes 2008). The fortuitous timing of a conference that had brought us from the Netherlands and New Zealand, respectively, had unexpectedly also given us the opportunity to attend the apology to indigenous Australians that newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had promised a few months before. John Howard, the previous Prime Minister, whose government had been replaced by Rudd's Labor administration, had stubbornly refused to utter such an apology. This controversial issue in Australian politics had first been tabled in Parliament in 1997 after a Federal Commission of Enquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, also known as the Stolen Generations, recommended that the Australian Parliament offer official apologies and officially acknowledge the responsibility of their predecessors for the laws, policies and practices of forcible removal. Howard, however, had consistently rejected what he called a "black armband view of history". Rudd, by contrast, had made it one of his campaign pledges in 2007. Knowing the historic significance of the occasion, we were determined to join the throng.
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