I am saddened to hear that the new opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, will not say Sorry to Aboriginal people. But I am not surprised.

Brendan Nelson represents a party that is out of touch. They just don’t get it. He would do well to talk to former Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, to learn something about genuine liberal values.

Nelson’s are the mean-spirited responses of denial that diminish him as a person and diminish Australia as a nation. At the very historical moment when new, courageous collaboration is possible, this new Liberal leader, just like Howard before him, fuels the fires of division.

What they fail to grasp, or refuse to see, is that we cannot move forward until the legacies of the past are properly dealt with. This means acknowledging the truth of history, providing justice and allowing the process of healing to occur.

We are not just talking here of the brutality of a time gone by – though that was certainly a shameful reality. We are talking of the present, of the ways in which the legacy of the past lives on for every single Aboriginal person and their families.

It is time for non-Indigenous Australians to turn their reflective gaze inwards. It is time to look at non-Indigenous privilege – and to ask the question: ‘What was the cost of this advantage – and who paid the price?’