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One of the first things that struck me when I came to Australia was the immense tragedy of the Aboriginal peoples. Even at primary school, I could not understand how a civilised people could pretend that the original inhabitants of a land were less than human for their own convenience. Of course, the horror did not go away when I learnt more.

I was not born when these things happened. The earliest immigrants from my family arrived during the last years of the Stolen Generation. None of them voted for the governments that did this in the name of Australia.

But I am sorry, because Australia is now my country. The legal foundations of this country are built on racism, on that denial of Aborigines' humanity. A denial that resonates through every history text claiming that Australia was an empty land, settled and not conquered. A denial in John Howard's 10-point plan to turn back time when the courts finally recognised the falsity of terra nullius in Mabo. A denial that the new Leader of the Opposition seems unwilling to recant, even within his own apology today.

My family came to this country to avoid racial discrimination by the state, to gain equality and education and wealth. God forbid that I should ever deny the humanity of the original inhabitants of this country.

I am proud that our government has finally led us out of denial. On my own behalf, I am sorry too.


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August 2012



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