Friday October 12, 2007 7:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"While we should welcome any positive confessions of wrongness from the Prime Minister, who so dramatically linked his views on Indigenous people to 'how he was brought up' during his 'Sydney Institute Confessions' yesterday evening, the meat of a change of heart is not in mea culpa statements, but in resolve and action," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"This resolve and action cannot be otherwise than John Howard making further statements, not just about the unique place of Australia's Indigenous people as Australia's first inhabitants, but also about the rights and privileges this brings both to them and to us, the non-indigenous people, and Mr Howard needs to start by acknowledging that all this has already been laid down in the UN Indigenous Peoples Declaration, a Declaration he has deliberately and methodically rejected and undermined, not only when Australia, just a few weeks ago, was one of the few countries around the world that refused to ratify it at the United Nations," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Not only has John Howard deliberately and methodically rejected and undermined this Declaration, he has also personally lobbied the Canadian government of Steven Harper to drop its 23-year commitment to that Treaty with statements that support for this Treaty was not in Australia's interests. Action and resolve that now should follow from his 'Sydney Institute Confessions' are a change of heart by showing unwavering support for this Declaration, and a change to the Northern Territory Intervention legislation, where John Howard is stealing the lands of Indigenous people by trying to convince Aboriginal communities to hand over the leases of their lands for 99 years to the Commonwealth."
"All of the Prime Minister's mea culpa's, no matter how noble they are, even changes to the Constitution signed off by John Howard, who is driven into the corner of a politician whose longest-serving government may be obliterated at the upcoming election, mean nothing but confessions of an old man who wants to be remembered with grandiosity. Confessions on a deathbed do not constitute policy changes. For John Howard, his new "practical reconciliation" should mean that he now joins the international community and supports Australia's signing up to the UN Indigenous Peoples Declaration and stop his Aboriginal communities landgrab," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]