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Archives for May 2000

Beazley Announces ALP Industrial Relations Policy

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has come under sustained attack in Federal Parliament following the announcement of the ALP’s Industrial Relations policy this week.

Beazley committed a Labor government to abolishing the system of Australian Workplace Agreements introduced by Industrial Relations Minister Peter Reith.

Whilst only about 90,000 Australians are parties to individual workplace agreements, otherwise known as individual contracts, they are an important symbolic feature of the coalition’s approach to industrial affairs. [Read more…]

Who Are The Mainstream Australians?

John Howard often claims to be in tune with “mainstream” Australians, but Gerard Henderson claims today that the Prime Minister has made the basic error of believing his own political sloganeering.

David Marr, biographer of Patrick White and Garfield Barwick, writes today of the scenes from Saturday’s Reconciliation Week launch at the Sydney Opera House, describing how the nation’s political leadership looked stunned as the audience booed and shouted to Howard to apologise to the Stolen Generations.

Both articles are worth a careful read by all thinking Australians.


The Speech Howard Should Have Made

As media criticism of Prime Minister John Howard over his refusal to attend Sunday’s Reconciliation Week walk in Sydney gathered pace today, it is interesting to compare the speech he made on Saturday to Corroboree 2000 with the speech given by Sir William Deane.

DeaneThe Governor-General’s speech contrasts sharply with what the Sydney Morning Herald called the “mean spritedness” and the “deadly sameness” of the “narrow, destructive course” followed by Howard

In his speech, Deane said: “Looking back, the starting point must be an acknowledgment of facts and truths which are now too well established or obvious to be denied. The dispossession and oppression of the Aboriginal peoples of this country over most of the years of non-indigenous settlement constitute, as Justice Gaudron and I said in a case called Mabo, the darkest aspect of the history of our nation.”

Later, after listing some positive milestones for Aborigines, such as the High Court’s 1992 Mabo judgement, the Governor-General said: “Even more important than the specific milestones that I have mentioned has been the ever-increasing grass roots awareness of the importance of both national reconciliation and the battle to overcome entrenched Aboriginal disadvantage. In the years that I have been Governor-General, Helen and I have been privileged to be part of countless unforgettable instances of reconciliation at the personal level in all parts of Australia. They have done much to shape the three thoughts about reconciliation which I wish to share with you as we stand at this crossroads and look to the future.”

250,000 Walk For Reconciliation Week

A quarter of a million Australians today walked across Sydney Harbour bridge as part of the fifth annual National Reconciliaton Week.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Dubbed Corroboree 2000, the event saw three federal government ministers, Philip Ruddock, Senator John Herron and Joe Hockey, join the marchers.

Prime Minister John Howard did not attend. Earlier, a Cabinet decision banning other ministers from attending was leaked.

Treasurer Peter Costello declined to join the march after news of the ban leaked out. [Read more…]

A By-Election In Isaacs?

The possibility of a resignation by Greg Wilton, ALP Member for the House of Representatives seat of Isaacs in Victoria, raises some interesting questions about the implications of a by-election during the remainder of this year.


Isaacs is an outer metropolitan electorate, won by Wilton in 1996 and retained in 1998. It includes the suburbs of Aspendale, Braeside, Carrum, Carrum Downs, Chelsea, Chelsea Heights, Cheltenham, Cranbourne, Edithvale, Lyndhurst, Mentone, Mordialloc, Parkdale, Patterson Lakes, Seaford and Skye.

In 1998 Wilton won the seat with 48.43% of the primary vote, 10% ahead of the Liberal vote. After distribution of preferences, the ALP member had 56.40%, a 4.84% swing over the 1996 result. [Read more…]

Howard Heckled During Corroboree 2000 Speech

Prime Minister John Howard was jeered and heckled today as he addressed Corroboree 2000 at the Sydney Opera House.

His speech was barely audible at times as delegates interjected. Many turned their backs on him as he spoke and there were frequent cries of “shame”. Howard was again implored to say sorry to the stolen generations. [Read more…]

Governor-General Sir William Deane’s Address To Corroboree 2000

This is the text of the address to Corroboree 2000 by the Governor-General, Sir William Deane.

Governor-General Sir William Deane’s Address to Corroboree 2000.

DeaneAt the outset, I acknowledge the traditional custodians and thank them for the welcome they have given us all to their ancestral lands.

All of us who are pilgrims on the road to Aboriginal reconciliation have reached a crossroads. This is a time to pause and look back to the past, around at the present, and forward to the future. [Read more…]

Text of the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation

Text of the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation launched at Corroboree 2000.

Australian Declaration Toward Reconciliation.

We, the peoples of Australia, of many origins as we are, make a commitment to go on together in a spirit of reconciliation.

We value the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original owners and custodians of lands and waters. [Read more…]

John Howard’s Address to Corroboree 2000: ‘Towards Reconciliation’

This is the text of the speech John Howard made today to Corroboree 2000, the opening ceremony for Reconciliation Week.

During the speech, Howard was heckled and many delegates turned their backs on him.

Text of Prime Minister John Howard’s speech to Corroboree 2000.

HowardFirst may I acknowledge that I speak to you on the traditional lands of the Eora people. I pay my respects to them and thank them for the warmth of their welcome. To the many distinguished guests here today, Your Excellencies, State Premiers, Chief Ministers, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, the Leader of the Australian Democrats, to Evelyn Scott and Geoff Clarke.

I think all of us, whatever perspective we bring to this very special and moving occasion, I think all of us recognise the debt we owe to the tremendously hard work of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation over the last ten years. And may I specially pay a personal, and I am sure a representative tribute to you Evelyn for the grace and the dignity and the leadership and the strength of character that you have brought to this very important position. [Read more…]

Downing Street Baby First In 150 Years Born To Serving Prime Minister

Cherie Blair, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has given birth to a baby boy.

According to the early edition of The Times: “The baby is the first in more than 150 years to be born to a serving Prime Minister. The last time it happened was in 1849. On that occasion, on July 11, a third child was born to Lady Frances Elliot and her husband Lord John Russell who had been Prime Minister for just over two years.

“The birth of Francis Albert Rollo Russell went almost entirely unrecorded in the newspapers of the day, as did that of his elder brother the previous year.

“The Blair baby has another Downing Street precedent besides the Russells. Viscount Goderich occupied the highest office for barely six months in 1827-28, but managed to sire a son during his brief tenure, and indeed to have it born on the premises. George Frederick Samuel Robinson, the child in question, entered the world at No 10 on 24 October, 1827.

“The new baby is expected to be baptised in about two months, towards the end of July, at about the time that Parliament rises for the summer recess.

“Although Tony Blair is a member of the Church of England, and has no plans to convert, Cherie Blair is a devout Roman Catholic and their other three children are being brought up as Catholics. Like them, the new baby is also expected to be baptised and raised a Catholic. The Blairs take their religion seriously and they will be looking for godparents who will be prepared to fulfil the baptismal promises they make during the service.”

The paper suggests that Peter Mandelson, Labor Party enforcer and Blair confidant, may become godfather.