There’s a wicked whiff of irony in all this sudden talk of reconciliation. You hear it ringing with shadow spokeswoman Jenny Macklin’s endorsement of the Prime Minister’s sudden epiphanous sympathy for black Australia.

For all the talk of Kevin Rudd as the leader with a future vision, it is Howard, yesterday’s man apparently, who has actually been bold enough to speak publicly on how in the next few years we might move toward a reconciliation of the divide between Australia’s conquered and conquering peoples. You can be cynical about Howard’s motives, and point to the possibility that if one thing has stood between the black and white Australia and reconciliation for the past decade it has been him … but the point is that he’s come out and put a strand of flesh to the nervous bones of our future. He’s said something concrete and contestable. Something controversial, something real.

Kevin Rudd, the man with the vision? Rudd has said nothing yet. But then, that seems to be his style.