The Whole Sorry Day Speech

The speech that Kevin Rudd delivered at Parliament house yesterday was even more moving than I could have imagined. I cried. I never thought this would happen during my life time. I’m so full of hope for the future I feel like I could burst.

Here’s the whole thing: the four minute apology and then the twenty minute speech. It’s really worth watching all of it.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thanks to everyone who’s written to me from home and elsewhere. It’s wonderful to discover that yesterday’s historic events had an impact outside Australia. It was a great day.


  1. David Moles on #

    This is really excellent. I admit — a bit shamefacedly — that I have a bad habit of thinking of Oz as maybe fifteen to thirty years behind the US on a lot of social issues, but you are so far ahead of us today. I hope I hope I live to see someday a US president apologize half as sincerely for half the crap we’ve pulled over the last 200 years.

  2. veejane on #

    This is pretty awesome. And I guess it raises the question: why is it so hard to do? Like, why now, and not 20 years ago? 40 years ago?

    I’m not sure the US has ever officially apologized for slavery, or for treaty-breaking and general assholery with our own native peoples.

  3. Justine on #

    David: Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of Americans say that. I figure it’s part of the misapprehension that most Australians are like the crocodile hunter when, in fact, we’re the most urbanised country in the world.

    It’s a mixed bag, but there are ways my homeland is more socially progressive than the USA. For instance, same-sex relationships are recognised as defacto relationships. So if your same-sex partner is from overseas you can bring them into the country as your partner. Just like heterosexual couples can. (Presuming you get past all the immigration hoops and prove that your relationship is “genuine and continuing” as Scott and I had to do.)

  4. Margaret C. on #

    It’s more than apology, it’s acknowledgement. Truth and Reconciliation starts with Truth, right? Slavery, sure. But the Jim Crow days are rarely acknowledged here (it happened in the North too). There are a lot of people in the US who need to have their stories told as eloquently as Kevin Rudd tells the stories of the Stolen Generation.

  5. Justine on #

    Margaret: Yup!

  6. Adam Rakunas on #

    Man, I can only hope that when a Democrat gets into the White House next year, that person makes an apology as unequivocal as that.

  7. Adam Rakunas on #

    And as eloquent. Good God, I miss having a President who uses complete sentences.

  8. emmaco on #

    I was just remembering how powerful the reconciliation walks of 2000 were and how I became less and less sure anything was going to change in a positive way since then. I think part of my happiness at this event is that it feels like we’re really on an upward path (with the turning point the election).

  9. Lauren on #

    It’s a sign of strength when a nation can acknowledge its past wrongdoings and vow to improve on the future. Bravo. What a proud day for Australia.

  10. Justine on #

    Lauren: Exactly! If we can be proud of our homeland’s glories—why can’t we also acknowledge the iniquities?

  11. Lissa on #

    You know, a few years ago, I might not have known this happened. I almost certainly wouldn’t have watched it. I think that’s one of the best things to come out of having the internet – accessibility to people and events that we wouldn’t otherwise have. When one has friends from all over the world, one becomes more interested in the things that impact their lives (at least, they should!). This was a very moving speech and I really hope that what he said comes to pass.

  12. margo on #

    Thanks for putting this up, Justine. I had read the text and seen the news, but not seen the whole thing – it was great to sit and listen properly. I loved it that ‘all mothers are important’ was taken up and said aloud in the House as part of this speech, and I also liked the reference to the ‘thinly veiled contempt’ – with which not just Aboriginal people but pretty much all Australians have been treated for so much of the last decade, I can hardly believe what happened yesterday in Parliament.

  13. Mike on #

    It seems that the apology is one of the rare moments in our history where, in a very shared and public way, we have spoken something true about our history. We finally, for a moment at least, lay down the colonial myths of progress and triumph and see what is really happening. Perhaps one reason Howard couldn’t and wouldn’t genuinely acknowledge the loss that Aboriginal people endure is because it means letting go of the these myths. It is, I think, about speaking for ourselves, not hiding in the shadows of our colonial origins. Perhaps for the first time. It was an extraordinary day.

  14. limeywesty on #

    I watched it at school… and got into trouble for not exactly being in class, but when they heard it was to watch the Apoloy in the IT section, I was forgiven.

    I really believe it was LONG overdue though.
    mj can tell you about my rant on the fact that Aboriginies weren’t considered people even until the 60s. yep… anyways.

  15. Dave H. on #

    I’d give so much to see an American president and an American Congress do this. Apologize to our native people, and to the slaves, and to all the countries that we’ve despoiled. Apologize for doing things because we could, because we were entitled to whatever we wanted, because we were a superior race.

    A nation is never as strong as when it accepts its flaws.

  16. serene on #

    Thank you so much for this. I love seeing evidence of the goodness in the world. It keeps me from dying of cynicism.

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