There were two contentious issues at the gathering in Canberra for the national Apology for past and forced adoption practises on 21 march 2013. The apology has been very well received with the prime minister giving one her her most poignant addresses . Some have said it was her finest speech and showed the humanity she has which can often be hidden by the hard nosed realities of a brutal political system. Sadly the leader of the opposition did show a lack of understanding of the problems.
His statement " your presence here today in such numbers and with obvious power is a sign of how much this issue matters" This statement implies that personally he really does not believe that the issue matter to him and his colleagues . he admits it matters to us but fails to acknowledge that it matters that society allowed such despicable things to happen. Maybe the party faithful were afraid it would reflect badly upon the legacy of Robert Menzies who was PM for 16 of those terrible years. The fact is he had no real empathy with us that day. he was sating the words for the sake of saying them.
He then relates about a personal matter he was involved in where a young lady lost a child to adoption. he falsely claims there was no birth control in 1977. So he has not even taken the time to check his facts. Also abortion was a viable option back in 1977, not that i would advise anyone to take that path as I would not give such advice to any one. He also failed to relate that the supporting mothers pension was well established by then. Whilst it is good he admired this friend of his, there were so many other examples from the Senate enquiry that could have been used as well. The PM took the time to read the histories of some of the persons in the hall. she also took the time to meet with the Apology Reference group members. I must ask myself did the opposition leader take the time to do the same. I think not and would be happy to be corrected.
The rest of his speech up to when he made the faux pare of calling natural parents birth parents did give all the right words. Sadly when he reached the statement using the words " birth parents" it showed he had not or his had not read the senate enquiry report. However it was not said with malice and whilst it was quite correct for those gathered to correct him forcefully on this statement, the continual heckling after he corrected himself and acknowledged his error was not necessary. The term " Birth Mother" is a contentious issue because whilst some accept the term to many others some look at it as a derogatory term and not politically correct. I am a fence sitter on this matter in that i will respect those who do not believe it is a acceptable term , i also respect those who use it not really understanding the connotations it creates. I would like to think the opposition leader is amongst those who did not fully understand the connotations.
The issue he raised in relation to honouring adoptive parents. Whilst i understand that many adoptees including myself had decent good caring adoptive parents, we must also remember that many of our fellow travellers were not so lucky with the choices the state made as to whom our parents should be. yes the state as they decided who was acceptable and who was not. So the wise choice would have been to steer clear of adoptive parents on this auspicious day as to unconditionally praise would upset some adoptees and to dwell on the horrors some endured would upset others . I believe this statement was directed at his constituents more than the people in the Great Hall as we know he is a product of the extreme right of the NSW Liberal party who with Bronwyn Bishop as their champion is pushing the loosen the laws surrounding adoption in Australia and refuses to believe that there were such things as bad adoptive parents.
The same could also be said in relation to the statement he made about the right to chose in relation to future adoptions. he made mention of the inherent dangers of adoption. and he was pushing the NSW liberal right policy which has resulted in the proposal to use adoption as a arm of human services policy into the future. no mention of the fact that there was never a blank slate when it came to babies. All adoptees must be aware of the future domino effect that the NSW proposals could create especially if they implemented and shows a reduction of costs to the government. Much of what happened to we the adoptees was the result of governments not wanting the bear the financial costs of our welfare and by crikey it is starting again. The danger of adoption becoming another arm of government policy is terrifying for us who have been affected by past policies and those who are yet to follow. This is the political tone that to me was displayed by the Opposition Leader. Only by placing all child custody issues under the wing of the Family Court of Australia, can we as a nation have a truly independent authority determining such issues with the child first most in their considerations .
The Oppositions Leader speech was a political speech which was directed to his natural constituents as well as to those present. In doing so he failed to understand that those there that day were not interested in politics but in the actions of a remorseful nation of which he represents about half of. So in bringing political views into the equation he did many of us there a great disservice which was only surpassed by those who decided to try to overthrow the Prime Minister in her own party. His failure to commit the Opposition to continuing the support packages promised by the Prime Minister (only 11.5 million in total over 4 years) does not bode well for those of us who need assistance. Adoptees now have a duty to remind their local members that this commitment should be a core promise not something to be tossed away when the publicity dies down
In the interest of fairness I wish to disclose that my political leaning are not towards the conservative side of politics and have recently became a member of the Australian Greens