FORMER Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has signalled he will retire from parliament, and form a ‘National Apology Foundation’. So with that in mind, SOL BELLEAR provides a list of 10 things Kevin Rudd can apologise for during his time in office.
THE winners, they say, write history. Clearly, Kevin Rudd was no winner. He got rolled by his own party, then he got rolled by the electorate, and last week, he announced he would retire from parliament.
In the ensuing media coverage, Rudd’s credibility as an economic manager was hotly debated. Some say his stimulus packages prevented Australia from plunging into recession. Some say he went too far, and condemned future generations to massive government debt.
But the one area of Rudd’s performance that appears uncontested – at least in the mainstream media – is Rudd’s progress in Aboriginal affairs.
Why? Because he finally said ‘sorry’ to the Stolen Generations, and to Aboriginal people more generally for the appalling practices of Australia’s past. If Gough Whitlam is remembered for ‘the dismissal’, then Kevin Rudd is remembered for ‘the apology’.
But that appears to be the sum total of the media’s scrutiny of Rudd’s progress in Indigenous affairs. No in-depth look at his progress in ‘Closing the Gap’, no expose on the other ‘big ticket’ items in Aboriginal affairs.
During his final speech, Rudd announced that he would form a “national apology foundation”. I wish him luck with that venture, and to help get him started, here’s a list (starting below) of 10 more things Kevin Rudd can apologise for… in no particular order.
1. The Northern Territory intervention
The disastrous NT intervention was, of course, started by the Liberals. But it drew unanimous support in Opposition by Rudd Labor, and was continued and then extended for another 10-years in office by the Rudd and then Gillard governments. This is despite the fact that several billion dollars in government expenditure has not only failed to lift Aboriginal Territorians out of the mire of poverty, but in many areas, things are demonstrably worse.
Under Rudd, the Northern Territory intervention saw reports of self-harm and attempt suicide in NT Aboriginal communities more than quadruple. Removal of Aboriginal children reached record levels, school attendance rates dived, reports of starvation and malnutrition as a result of the intervention were widespread, a rise in Aboriginal unemployment gained new impotence, and alcohol-related violence has sky-rocketed.
Factor in the reality that the NT intervention oversaw a 41 percent spike in the jailing of Aboriginal people (from 699 Indigenous inmates in September 2008 to 991 by March 2011) and you have the perfect platform on which Mr Rudd can deliver another heartfelt ‘sorry’. CONTINUED NEXT PAGE…