Sorry about that

peter-garrett-sorry (1)

In the great poker game that is world politics, it seems that Australia is currently holding a pretty dud hand.

‘Led’ by the spineless and inept Julia Gillard and with ‘Mad monk’ Tony Abbott as the opposition alternative, there is a remarkable paucity of votable options at present.

Between them, they even manage to make the previous PM, the smarmy and self-obsessed school prefect that was Kevin Rudd, seem vaguely bearable. No, on second thoughts…

However, one thing that KRudd (cringe) did manage to achieve prior to his Ides of March denouement was Australia’s big day of reconciliation. The moment when he said “Sorry” to Australia’s indigenous population for crimes committed in the past.

Quite why it took so long to utter one simple word is beyond me, but is perhaps in keeping with a national tendency to associate apology with weakness.

And this extends to everyday life too. If someone bumps into you on a crowded Sydney pavement, it is your fault for not looking. If someone cuts you up in traffic, it serves you right and hey, have a finger too for your troubles.

The contrast I have observed thus far in the UK is stark.

If two people collide on the pavement here, both will instantly apologise and then both step into the road to get out of the way. Any driving misdemeanour is accompanied by a ‘mea culpa’ wave of the hand.

Why, only today I inadvertently bashed a woman in the street with my umbrella and she promptly apologised to me. I of course apologised straight back. It’s contagious, you know.

Even the politicians and big business are at it – sorry we messed up the budget, sorry we hacked into your mobile phone account.

Indeed, apologising is such a major part of life in the UK that I can’t help thinking that there wouldn’t have been quite such a fuss around a national apology were one required here. And I dare say it might have happened a bit quicker too.

But those are just my opinions and of course, I’m sorry if people don’t like them.


2 thoughts on “Sorry about that

  1. Two things here Sean. What you say about people in the UK bumping into you and apologising is true only until you step inside a pub. Discuss. And you really think Gillard is spineless? She’s got more major long term reform through in one term than Howard managed in 13 years, all threaded through a parliament that’s virtually deadlocked. She may be other things (Welsh being one) but I don’t think she’s spineless.

  2. Good points Nick. To be honest, I had become so bored with Aussie politics by the end that my perceptions of Gillard are probably shaped more by the means of her ascension to the top job and her well-publicised (by Abbott, anyway) back-flips and compromises with the Independents. Would be interesting to carry out a non-partisan comparison of her achievements versus Howard’s. Maybe I’ll start work on that in the pub tonight…whilst carefully avoiding bumping into anyone.

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