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13 February 2008

Apology for being so proud

I am not a man easily driven to feelings of pride.

I have a long standing argument with one of my dearest friends who often asks me why I'm not "proud of Australia" or "proud of being Australian".

To be honest, over the last decade, Australia, as a nation and political entity, simply hasn't given me that much reason. We are a lucky country - we are a wealthy country - and there are many reasons to recommend Australia, and living in Australia, over and above many other places on the planet.

But what we have chosen to do with that luck and those riches has often left much to be desired.

When I left Australia in the early 90s I was too young to know just how lucky and blessed we were, and by the time I came back, in the late 90s, we were already on the path of division, short-termism, selfishness and fear that has guided our behaviour as a nation for a decade since.

I also simply don't give my "pride" away that cheaply. I value it very highly. When I say I'm proud of something that I'm a part of, I want to know that there is good reason - and that the pride I'm giving away means something.

And that is why, with tears in my eyes, I am happy to say the last 48 hours have made me very proud.

I won't spend anytime analysing why it was so great - it just was. "I'm sorry", it just was.

The same dear friend of mine that hassles me for not being proud of my Australia, also pokes fun at me for apologising too much. And so... it now behooves me, obviously, to apologise profusely for being so god-damn proud of my country.

The "Welcome to Country" was inspirational, and will remain a yearly reminder of where our nation came from and who had it first.

The Apology said what it needed to say. It covered some great policy initiatives and had a real sense of having been planned in consultation with those people for whom it was designed - the Aboriginal people of Australia.

To see the whole thing for yourself, scroll down this post and watch the YouTube postings below.

"The apology" is, like the signing of Kyoto, very late. But, none the less, the way with which it was handled today by Rudd and the rest of the Australian government made me proud. It was a great moment.


what went wrong with Nelson?

OH... MY... GOD!

Could he have done a worse job? I don't think so.

If that was the line he was going to take - he should have simply said he didn't support the Apology. It would have made more sense.

I only heard one explanation today that went anyway towards explaining why he might have said what he said... because he wasn't speaking to the people of Australia but to his party - the conservative side of it... staying in power in his party was more important than speaking to the people of Australia in a politically positive way.

But what was so wrong with what he said then?

I wasn't sure, while listening to Nelson live, what was making me so uneasy... everything he said was potentially "salvageable" in the moment... but none of it was ever salvaged... none of it was corrected... and as a whole, the speech was simply an insult to the reconciliation process.

For more details of what I'm talking about, have a look at So, what went wrong with Nelson?

For a great summary of what happened today:

The "Welcome to Country":

Apology - part 1.

Apology - part 2.

Apology - part 3.

Apology - part 4.

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