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National Sorry Day.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

 

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP

 

26 May 1999

 

NATIONAL SORRY DAY

 

Today I urge the Prime Minister to take the opportunity on this National Sorry Day to end the Government’s ill-feeling with t he Stolen Generation.

 

The Budget Papers revealed that this government is preparing for drawn out, divisive and costly court battles with the victims of past government policies of family separation.

 

This Government now tells us that there are 2200 potential claimants against the Commonwealth alone, and that compensation costs could run to the hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

The Government’s test case in Darwin has already cost $6 million dollars, with the substantive issues yet to be put, let alone ruled on.

 

The financial implications for the taxpayer will pale in comparison with the social division and national disquiet that will follow if the Commonwealth fights the 2200 cases to come in the same shameful manner as the Darwin case.

 

This is a time for national healing and national leadership. The Prime Minister must come forward with a non-litigious, conciliatory mechanism to address the pain of the Stolen Generation.

 

Such a process must begin with the apology the Prime Minister seems incapable of making.

 

National Sorry Day is a time for reconciliation and healing. However much some might absolve themselves from the mistakes of the past, we must accept our responsibility for shaping the future.

 

CANBERRA

 

 

md 1999-05-27  10:28