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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sorry - the beginning of wheat-green hope

There we were in Federation Square, Melbourne...
an estimated 8000 of us...
under the flags unfurled of the indigenous nations
of Australia.
We were there to hear our government say sorry.
Andrew Jackomos of the Yorta Yorta initiated proceedings.
An old friend of Miss Eagles, Rob Hulls - Acting Premier of Victoria - spoke formally.
The crowd was attentive.
There were the activists calling for compensation.
There were high school students...
in uniform...
taking time out.
There were the kids...
...and the buttons...
...and the t-shirts
...speaking what was in our hearts.
There were tears and cheers...
laughter and applause.
Then the disbelief, the pain of the Leader of the Opposition's speech.
They turned their backs in anger, disgust, and sorrow.
Miss Eagle stood beneath the loudspeakers at the back.
A well-dressed good looking twenty-something man spoke to her.
"Do you mind if I unplug the speakers?" he said politely.
"Feel free." Miss Eagle said cheerily.

She had turned her back on Howard -
at the Opera House, Corroboree 2000,
all those years ago.
Turned her back against his lies,
his hate, his meanness.
Brendan Nelson didn't seem worth the effort.
He has no power against the vision birthed yesterday.
His looking-backwards words
told us nothing, took us nowhere
except into the pain and sadness
of a certain sort of whitefella.


And then back to Upper Gully.
Quiet, whitefella country.
The blackfellas left long ago -
one way or another.
But here a simple beginning was made.
A simple prayer service
at St Thom's.
And for whom did we pray?
In the spirit of wheat-green hope,
I think it was for us.