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Latham vows Stolen Generations apology

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 20 February 2004


Federal Opposition leader Mark Latham has promised a Labor Government would apologise to the Stolen Generations.

Mr Latham is touring key centres in the marginal seat of McMillan in the Gippsland area of south-east Victoria.

Mr Latham says there needs to be a recognition of land rights, an end to poverty and an apology to the Stolen Generations.

"If any of our families were broken up in that way, we'd expect somewhere along the line governments would say sorry," he said.

He said Labor would work to break the poverty cycle in the Aboriginal community.

"I see that as making families valued," he said.

But the Federal Government says it will not be moved by the Opposition's promise to apologise to the Stolen Generations.

Prime Minister John Howard says he has made his decision clear.

"I've always said that it is not right to oblige and compel the present generation of Australians to apologise for something that they were not responsible for," Mr Howard said.

"I've had that position ever since I've been Prime Minister and I won't be changing."


Earlier during his tour, Mr Latham was focusing on education and training.

Teachers at Leongatha Secondary College raised with Mr Latham the problems of country children accessing university places.

Teachers also fear many parents can not afford to support children who are studying too much to find time for part-time jobs.

Mr Latham has ruled out changing the means of Austudy but says he will address living expenses assistance.

He says Labor's focus is on improving youth access to universities.

"We'd be reversing the 25 per cent in HECS, abolishing the full fee system [and] expanding places particularly in regional areas," he said.

After the Leongatha visit, Mr Latham continues his tour on to Moe and Warragul.


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