I do not go in for gesture politics. Prime Ministers apologising for events of over a hundred years ago, often with a patent lack of sincerity, with the media in full attendance to make a political point leaves me cold. I am fed up with people expecting England to apologise for battles fought centuries ago when standards and attitudes for so different everywhere. If challenged on such an apology, I usually say I will wait for the French to apologise for the Battle of Hastings first.
The Australian Prime Minister’s apology for the more recent treatment of native people in his country was different. It can help heal wounds that are of more recent origin. It was clearly wanted by people whose own childhoods were changed fundamentally when they were taken from their mothers at an early age. It does not lead to financial compensation and will be criticised by some for that, but it is recognition that modern Australia has a different approach, and wishes to unify its people.
I welcome that, and trust it will be reflect a spirit of apology and forgiveness on both sides of the divide.