Friday, October 12, 2007

Ready, Set, Reconcile

"He wants to keep breaking our hearts. He has had 11 years and he has failed us." Lowitja O'Donoghue

Do you know what I hate about politics? All the bloody politicians. Mr Howard has apparently had some gracious shift in his thinking on - gosh - the eve of an election in Australia. Apparently reconciliation is a good idea after all. He even points to the election-based thinking behind this:
"I sense in the community a rare and unexpected convergence of opinion on this issue between the more conservative approach which I clearly identify with and those who traditionally have favoured more of a group rights approach."
So if the conservatives want it, then it must be okay. But doesn't this barely veiled comment also dismiss the collective voices of those of us who have 'traditionally favoured a group rights approach'? Are we not 'traditional Australians' too? I can't help being highly suspicious of these steps towards 'symbolic reconciliation'.
But part of me wants to actually believe Howard is genuine in his humility. He's quite good at that, he strikes quite a pathetic figure, and increasingly a solitary one. Mr Howard is basically admitting here (in quite a vulnerable way, which is why it is compelling despite the blatant timing) that he is a product of a way of thinking that is no longer relevant when it comes to social issues. In other words, Howard seems to be admitting to a kind of historical racism.
"The challenge I have faced around indigenous identity politics is in part an artefact of who I am and the time in which I grew up."
Basically, elections strike me as ultimately flawed. All these shiny shiny words at election time and then years of slipping in the crappy stuff when no one is looking. I mean long live democracy and all, I am well aware of the position of privilege I write from - as a non-minority subject in a democratic country, who lives in a well serviced urban region. But I've always thought there was a huge gap between being a good politician and being good at running the country. As Howard himself admits.
"True reconciliation will become a reality only when it delivers better lives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That, quite frankly, will be the work of generations."
But how can such a reality be achieved when it comes in sound-byte-sized pieces every three years, or as a set of competing policies between short term thinkers?


  1. Anonymous9:26 AM

    I also have a feeling that (for once) Howard is actually being sincere; the fact that he has "struggled" with indigenous issues is undeniable, and I have to give him one brownie point for admitting it.
    But it just LOOKS so bad. He's basically had 11 years of sticking his fingers in his ears and going "la la la" and now, with about two seconds till the election, he's coming over all regretful and reflective (without actually being, you know, sorry). He's not seriously trying to win back all the disappointed Rudd-ites with a display of social conscience, is he? Noooo...

  2. Anonymous3:55 PM


    'The document, titled "Australia - Strong, Prosperous and Secure", outlines the Coalition's achievements and priorities should they win another term in office.'

    which would be spin for "becoming more Yank-ified, screwing the working class and unemployed and spending too much on bombs, guns, tanks, subs, choppers and iraq".

    seriously, is it just me, or do we all spend our time trying to work out how he is going to secretly and silently roger us next?

    Lesser of two evils election!

  3. I think your last paragraph summed it up Pen - it can't. I'm always so skeptical of the pre-election promises by any party, but I'm in the Any Party Other Than Liberal camp.

    OT: Mieke is looking over my shoulder and just asked me if she can buy "that book with half a lady on it".

  4. He has to concede on reconciliation so he can keep those black buggers from Africa out. He can't appear to be racist now can he? I guess in his petty little mind he'd rather be nice to an Aboriginal than a Sudanese. Better the devil you know and all that...

  5. Anonymous8:07 AM

    AND, i've been thinking, added aboriginals in the pre-amble to the constitution doesn't actually give them any more rights. It just means they have been mentioned once or twice in a document.

    Doesn't pull troops out of NT, doesn't give land, medical support etc.

    Its just a mention in some writing.

  6. Anonymous8:37 AM

    Every time Howard pulls out one of these self-serving but clever moves I think that surely he has reached rock bottom. Reading that link was incredibly frustrating. I had to go phone my grandmother who gave her verdict that Howard won't get back in, hopefully based on her addiction to political news rather than hope.

  7. I was really p.o'd by this attempt to get some votes (surely it won't work?). I felt Howard was just trying to throw some scraps to us lefties to keep us happy, stymieing us with words so we wouldn't notice the systemic racism of his party's approach to everything, and the generally disrespectful and distrustful behaviour to anyone who isn't just like him.

    I don't think he 'struggles' - I think he's smug and self-assured and happy to say what needs to be said if it means he keeps power.

    (Ooooh the vitriol, my but I despise that bunch)

    I think it is indeed an election of two evils but I do think there is a lesser one.