In which our intrepid hero is frustrated with the Aboriginal reconciliation process.

I’ve been somewhat more than lax with my blogging over the last month, owing largely to my travels (I’m writing from a motel room in Mildura) and the impending move. It’s official: my fiancée (fiancée!) Mim K/W and I are moving to Tasmania.

It’s been a very busy month.

Mim’s birthday is the day before Valentine’s Day, and we decided to pop down to Canberra; coincidentally, PM Rudd picked Mim’s birthday to formally say “Sorry” to Australia’s indigenous citizens, as I’d outlined here.

Whilst I wasn’t in Canberra for Rudd’s speech, I did get to see a small handful of Rudd’s token 1000 Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, furious that they hadn’t been told that phone calls home weren’t part of their Government-paid junket—remember, a fair few of the delegates had never stayed at a hotel before, and made the grave error of taking Rudd’s hospitality at face value—and that the contents of their minibars had been surreptitiously removed prior to their arrival.

I also got to see the professional Indigenous lobby’s overblown hostility towards Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson’s speech, despite:

  • Nelson’s much longer public history as an apologist (if I may use the term thus); and
  • after all the hemming, hawing, justifications and clarifications, the two speeches saying pretty much the same thing.

In the end, it seems, Australia’s indigenous inhabitants received their highly conditional, wrapped-up-in-a-ball-of-strings-attached apology, but no compensation for their suffering. Instead, any funds that might’ve been available to compensate victims will now go to closing the health and mortality gaps between Indigenous and post-1788 Australia.

Which is an utterly brilliant solution to the issue—the *ahem* Abocrats nary hesitated to sing Rudd’s praises—assuming you forget that:

  • as Australian citizens, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders were already entitled to adequate health care, education, law enforcement and the other trappings that modern Australian society takes for granted;
  • these sorts of things are the bailiwick of State—not Federal—government; and
  • said State governments (like the Rudd administration, all Labor) are universally held to suck at providing services like health, education and law enforcement, to degrees varying from incompetent to criminal.

Of course, lest people blink and miss the Nineteen Eighty-Four-esque discrepancies in the reconciliation process, the Rudd government has since made it quite clear that we’re no longer dealing with our fathers’ Labor Party anymore, suggesting that it might even scrap Carers’ and Senior Citizens’ benefits in this year’s Budget.

On the other hand, they could just be playing bait-and-switch, but to even suggest this kind of cut is so far out of the generally warm and fuzzy image that Labor has cultivated since the Whitlam years as to be heretofore inconceivable.

This makes me sad.

The Howard government had the distinct whiff of roadkill by the time it left office and its successor, the Nelson opposition, is inoffensive (mostly) but useless.

On the other hand, I’d hoped for a breath of fresh air, a new Rudd government that might allow itself a short honeymoon period wherein it might not constantly screw things up and indulge in the kind of cynical manipulations and shenanigans that typically characterise university SRC campaigns.

As Ned Kelly reportedly sighed, as he waited for the gallows’ trapdoor to open: “Such is life.”