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Reflecting on a week of sorry....

The "sorry" to Australia's indigenous people by PM Rudd has attracted world-wide attention. Deservedly so.

In the days since the world has moved on....and there are, amongst other things, reflections on the day and all that it involved, including the main players.

Mike Carlton, writing in the SMH:

"For 10 long years, the Howard government trod ever more heavily upon the downtrodden. Obsessed with crushing its ideological enemies, real or imagined, it was, in Manning Clark's memorable phrase, a government of "straiteners and punishers".

At last, the Australian people have embraced a return to fairness and decency in our national life. The week was all about just that. What the hermit of Wollstonecraft made of it, I cannot imagine. Perhaps he warms himself with thoughts of the Queen offering him the garter."

In the same newspaper, Adele Horin writes:

"Brendan Nelson's mean, meandering speech on sorry day could not spoil the moving and historic occasion. But it showed him up as a weak leader lacking judgment, and generosity, and like the man he succeeded, missing the point.

Thanks to the amazing grace and forbearance of Aboriginal Australia, the worst response he suffered was that some turned their backs or turned off the television. Many were simply grateful he had brought the Liberal Party to the sorry word. It could have been so much more.

Great speeches can be defining moments in a nation's history, and a window into the soul of those who write or deliver them. Amazingly, Kevin Rudd redeemed himself after having delivered such a boring speech on election night that it shut down victory parties across the nation and sent deflated guests home regretting their vote. He delivered a moving sorry speech, right in tone and content. His sorry was without qualification, as the occasion, and a genuine apology, demands. Rudd's speech enhanced his leadership credentials.

Nelson's sorry was so pinched and qualified it was not an apology at all. Rather than focusing on past government policy, as the day required, he sought to rationalise and excuse the myriad bit players who had put the policy into effect. He missed the point.

On this historic occasion, the speech was totally inappropriate: convoluted, tortured and snidely racist."

Over at the Murdoch press, The Australian has a roundup of opinions on the apology from around the world - including in The Guardian where Geoffrey Robertson QC says that Britain should say sorry for its role in degrading the Aboriginal race.

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