The Age (Melbourne), May 12, 2008
African leaders have heaped praise upon the federal government for its apology to indigenous Australians, telling a senior Labor MP of their pleasure at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s focus on human rights.
Parliamentary Secretary for Trade John Murphy held 14 bilateral meetings with African leaders during a visit to Ghana late last month for a United Nations trade and development conference.
Mr Murphy on Monday told Mr Rudd and his caucus colleagues of how leaders—including Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma—were eager to congratulate the government for the apology.
“They all knew about Kevin Rudd and the new government, they all knew about the apology that he gave in the national parliament, and as I said to him today, that sent a very good message to Africa,” Mr Murphy told AAP.
“It really resonated, because it said ‘here’s a government that’s concerned with human rights, here’s a government concerned about the equality of all mankind, here’s a government concerned about reconciliation, here’s a government concerned with humanity’.”
Mr Murphy said African leaders obviously held Mr Rudd in high regard.
“It’s pretty refreshing when they hear there’s a country that’s concerned about human rights, and that’s the sort of message the apology sent across the African continent,” he said.
[Editor’s Note: An account of the Australian “apology” to the aborigines can be read here.]