Whatever should Brendan Nelson do? His party is torn on the issue of an apology to the stolen generation and within the space of days must resolve its approach to this weeping Liberal sore and bat a few other curly ones round its depleted party room. Global warming, industrial relations … you get the drift.

Already, before the formal discussion even begins, the Liberal Party is paralysed by division. Dr Nelson? Dr Nelson is torn between what is politically and morally obvious — that there should be an apology — and what is politically convenient — that he owes his improbable elevation to the leadership to the hard-ars-d right of his party, a group that will countenance no black-arm band grovelling to Indigenous Australia. 

Nelson ums and ahs and stalls for time, while his arch foe for Liberal leadership happily mouths ”sorry” at anyone who will listen. What should Nelson do? Nelson should lead his party to a bipartisan gesture of national regret … it’s unarguable and attempts to defer the decision look at best ungainly or at worst morally bereft. Dr Nelson should lead, or give way to someone who will. Sorry, but there it is.

Peter Fray

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