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15 years later, Peter Dutton apologises for not attending apology to Stolen Generations

Emma Ruben -

Federal Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton has apologised for boycotting the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008.

Mr Dutton made his apology on the 15-year anniversary of the apology.

He claimed he had previously apologised for refusing to attend the apology, and was reiterating that apology Monday.

"And I want to say in an unscripted way, I apologise for my actions and the Prime Minister's frequently able to point it out that I didn't attend the chamber for the apology 15 years ago," he said.

"I have apologised for that in the past and I repeat that apology again today."

When he became Opposition Leader in 2022, more than 14 years after the Apology, Mr Dutton said he had seen domestic violence incidents where Aboriginal women and children suffered physical and mental abuse during his time on the Queensland Police Force.

On Monday he said felt the "violence" needed to be remedied before an apology was made.

"I failed to grasp at the time the symbolic significance to the Stolen Generation of the apology," Mr Dutton said.

"It was right for Prime Minister Rudd to make the apology in 2008. It's right that we recognise the anniversary today, it's right that the government continues its efforts and in whatever way possible, we support that bipartisan effort."

Mr Dutton also welcomed the Closing the Gap plan announced in parliament by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese Monday morning.

The Closing the Gap plan involves:

  • A dedicated $150 million over four years to go towards creating water infrastructure for communities without access to clean drinking water.
  • $112 million one-year partnership with the Northern Territory government to accelerate the building of new remote housing and almost $12 million to go towards making essential food more accessible and affordable.
  • And the continued funding of $68.6 million over two yeas to go towards legal and non-legal support to women and children experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence.

Mr Albanese said there is still a long way to go to Close the Gap.

"These are not gaps, they are chasms," he said.

"It is clear that not enough support has been directed towards organisations to deliver for communities.

"It is clear that we have leapt too swiftly from a climate of forceful intervention to simply telling communities, 'you are on your own'."

Mr Dutton welcomed the Closing the Gap plan but also said he "fears we are failing again".

"I fear we are failing again this very day for which a future apology will be necessary," he said.

"Ironically the situation in Alice Springs has highlighted children suffering in a harmful situation which is suffocating their chances of breaking a vicious cycle.

"Authorities have decided to put culture and other considerations above the best interests of those children in leaving them in harm's way."

Mr Dutton is yet to announce his stance on the Voice to Parliament. 


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