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Time for Abbott to live up to his words

by Pamela Nathan

Re: ‘Closing the gap: fine words from Tony Abbott, but now it’s time to live up to them’, by Michael Gordon, The Age, Thursday 13 Februrary, 2014.

Abbott’s ‘most heartfelt, gracious’ speech has been hailed as a potential defining moment in Australia’s long march to reconciliation by three veterans of Aboriginal policy: Fred Chaney, Warren Mundine and Marcia Langton.

Abbott said he was committed to ending “the tyranny of low expectations” in indigenous affairs and closing the gap on disadvantage.

Abbott said the longer his journey had gone on – a journey inspired by Keating – “the more for me, Aboriginal policy has become personal rather than political”.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten can be congratulated also for offering bipartisan support in his vow to be constructive in addressing disadvantage predicting that setbacks and stumbles would be outshone by joy and healing.

Congratulations to the sincerity of Abbott: “There is probably no aspect of public policy on which there is more unity of purpose and readiness to give others the benefit of the doubt”.

The political leaders appear to be united to close the gap on disadvantage between Australians and Aboriginal people and to honor  the First Nation in a heartfelt speech.

As Michael Gordon concludes, “The onus is now on all players to act on it”.