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Prime Minister backs down on Reconciliation Deadline

THE Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI) has attacked Prime Minister John Howard for abandoning his December 31, 2000 deadline for achieving Aboriginal reconciliation.

Mr Howard said last week Aboriginal reconciliation would not be achieved by the December 31 deadline and that real reconciliation would take years. He said setting a deadline had been a big mistake and too much store had been put on the document of reconciliation.

ACLRI president, Brigidine Sister Margaret Cassidy of Melbourne, described Mr Howard’s statement as “outrageous, nothing less than a betrayal of all those people who have participated in the reconciliation process to date”.

“How can Mr Howard label the deadline as a mistake when he committed himself to it on election night?” Sr Margaret said.

“On election night (1998), Mr Howard accepted a deadline for reconciliation. He has now gone back on his word. He should either keep to this deadline or in future refrain from ever criticising anyone who does not keep to his or her word.

“Reconciliation is a process that evolves and develops over time. Through extensive consultation over the past 10 years we now have a reconciliation document which expresses the hopes and dreams of a growing number of Australians,” Sr Margaret said.

Written by: Staff writers
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