The Guardian May 31, 2000


A Sorry weekend for Howard

by Andrew Jackson

John Howard has seen his leadership diminished after universal criticism 
of his handling and participation in Corroboree 2000.

Looking awkward and uncomfortable throughout the proceedings on Saturday, 
Mr Howard squirmed as he was attacked by speaker after speaker for his 
failure to attend the corroboree in the true spirit of reconciliation and 
apologise. As he delivered his speech in the Concert Hall of the Opera 
House, dozens in the audience stood and turned their backs in symbolic 
protest.  Banners were unfurled and he was subjected to a chorus of 
heckling and booing for his insincerity. The jeering erupted again as he 
pressed his handprint onto the Vision Statement.

Speaking in the forecourt of the Opera House,. ATSIC chairman Geoff 
Clarke said "I was asked  if there is a protest will you 
control them?  And I said `No', they can control themselves. It is a 
question of people wanting to get rid of their frustrations and anger, and 
it's a good way to do it. I don't think anyone dishonoured themselves.  It 
was to be expected and he knew it."

Then on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands rallied across the Harbour Bridge, 
Mr Howard further distanced himself from the spirit of the occasion by 
skulking off to Canberra to attend to "government business."

Mr Howard has now completely sidelined himself. The Australian people 
however, indigenous and non-indigenous alike, have demonstrated their 
goodwill and held hands across the nation.  They have proved to Mr Howard 
that the process for reconciliation, peace and justice will proceed without 
him.

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