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Indigenous commissioner says reconciliation going nowhere

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on May 15th, 2002.

The Indigenous Social Justice Commissioner, Bill Jonas, says reconciliation has gone nowhere since hundreds of thousands of Australians marched for the cause two years ago.

Dr Jonas has criticised the Government for using the term "practical reconciliation", saying its policies have not brought people together.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, has rejected that suggestion.

He says the Government has spent $2.5 billion on indigenous-specific issues.

But Dr Jonas says symbolism is just as important.

"Now this is the Government putting in money to programs which it should be doing, such as housing and health and education, but calling it reconciliation," he said.

"I think not only one of the most wrong uses of a term I've heard come out of government but I also think that in itself, is disrespectful of indigenous people and the work that was done over the last 10 years."



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