Monday, July 19, 2004

for sooth!

The Australian had a color supplement this weekend celebrating its 40th anniversary. Apart from its "40 people of influence" which necessarily included both John Howard and Mark Latham, it also ran a story titled "Soothsayers" which featured two lengthy articles: one by the PM, and one from...Gough Whitlam? Well, I love Gough as much as the next lefty, but wouldn't it have been fairer to allow the current Opposition leader to counterspin Howard's little campaign piece, rather than printing the Whitlam article, written in 1974 and forecasting the decade to 1984?
Still, interesting to read some of Whitlam's predictions:

I believe that in 10 years we will have fully accepted our responsibilities to the deprived and weaker sections of the community and that the Aboriginal people will enjoy a new dignity and security. These assessments rest on the assumption that the major reforms undertaken by the present [Labor] government will be irreversible and that, even if the conservative parties are returned to government, there will be a continuing popular consensus in favour of progressive policies."

Well, so much for that dream. Juxtapose that with what Howard says in another part of the Weekoz, in its magazine's "10 things you didn't know about John Howard":
Guilt is something that Howard thinks Australia wallows in way too much. "Guilt about the Aborigines is one example. Now I totally agree that they have been appallingly treated in the past. But I didn't do that. I won't feel guilty about it. But because we feel guilty we have these nonsenses such as treaties. And it is nonsense. I say let's forget the past, start again, and just concentrate on making things better for the Aborigines."

So typical of our PM. He always thinks he can dine out on the positive aspects of Australian history but when it comes to facing up to the negative, he is in absolute denial. We can't just "forget the past". And geez, if Aboriginal people want a treaty, then he has no right to just dismiss that as "nonsense". Shame, shame, shame.

update: OK, as far as treaties are concerned, I'm no expert. But I asked someone who is, and he reckons (and I hope I got this straight) the better path would be to facilitate true reconciliation by, at the time of changing from being a constitutional monarchy to becoming a republic, amending the constitution to recognise the indigenous people's prior sovereignty of the land.