Did the Prime Minister have an epiphany? No. Just a message from the pollster. There is considerable cynicism among traditional Liberal voters, reported Mark Textor, about the Federal Government takeover of Aboriginal policy in the Northern Territory. We look like losing seats we never even thought were in danger. Listen to Elton John:

It’s sad, so sad
It’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

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So how about saying sorry? No. No. I know I’m old fashioned, but I don’t mind it. That’s how I want to be. I’m a Johnny Mercer man. Fools rush in where wise men never go.

Johnny and Harold Arlen are my advisers. They knew:

  • You’ve got to accentuate the positive
  • Eliminate the negative
  • Latch on to the affirmative
  • Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

“I was never able to recite a fable” … “Let’s give them that old black magic that I weave so well.”

Let them have another referendum. Put some nice words in the preamble to the Constitution. So give me a speech and quickly find me a venue.

So there John Howard was last night at the Sydney Institute where:

It’s like singin’ to empty tables

Or a gallery full of ghosts

Or like givin’ a great big party

Where nobody shows but the host

“I still believe,” John Howard told the quickly assembled rent-a-crowd, “that a collective national apology for past injustice fails to provide the necessary basis to move forward. Just as the responsibility agenda is gaining ground it would, I believe, only reinforce a culture of victim-hood and take us backwards.”

So, in an attempt to meet the Textor message:

I announce that, if re-elected, I will put to the Australian people within 18 months a referendum to formally recognise indigenous Australians in our constitution – their history as the first inhabitants of our country, their unique heritage of culture and languages, and their special, though not separate, place within a reconciled, indivisible nation.

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Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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