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Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

As I see it, it is a rare phenomenon when a government creates its legacy early in its tenure in power, it must therefore be quite unique when a government creates its legacy to history with its first act in parliament or legislature.

The Australian Labor government has announced that it will issue an official apology to the stolen generation, on the first sitting of the new parliament, for previous wrongs done by the government to Aboriginals. Many government policies have impacted negatively on the indigenous populations, and such an acknowledgment of the dire consequences of those policies by the newly elected contemporary government will probably be seen as a great step forward in social justice and may lend this government an image of a righter of past wrongs… or will it?

The apology and acknowledgment of past wrongs imposed on Aboriginals is an act that is many many years overdue. Long did we watch the previous prime minister, John Howard, play semantic games expressing regret, doing all he could to avoid one word – Sorry. On other issues, the previous government was at once either blind to what was obvious (climate change), willfully confrontational (boat people), clearly discriminatory (gay rights), officious and callous (the Rau and Solon episodes), the list goes on.

The foreshadowed action by the new government will probably be seen as a great step forward in social justice, but it may also be seen as an act toward simply catching up to where our understanding of what kind of social justice and level of human rights ought to be accepted in Australia. Have we, after eleven years of very conservative rule, become so bankrupt in recognising and living social justice that the act of doing something so overdue as the apology to the stolen generation is seen as a wonder, and as the one social justice thing this government can live on for the rest of its tenure. In other words, if this government is true to its defense of social justice and human rights; the apology, while being a great step in social justice, it must not be its only step.

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