WAY TO GO: Bundjalung elder Bertha Kapeen pictured on the wharf at Fawcett Park and, inset, Paul Keating.
WAY TO GO: Bundjalung elder Bertha Kapeen pictured on the wharf at Fawcett Park and, inset, Paul Keating. Jacklyn Wagner

Sorry not quite enough

A BUNDJALUNG elder has said on the 20th anniversary of Paul Keating's famous Redfern speech progress towards reconciliation is still moving too slowly.

Ballina-based Bertha Kapeen said the Redfern speech and Kevin Rudd's 2008 "sorry speech" were the greatest political statements toward reconciliation Australia had seen.

But the 77-year-old, whose mother was part of the stolen generation, said she would like governments to do much more.

"Some Australians have changed but I don't think everyone has ... it's very slowly getting there," she said.

"We do still have Sorry Day and a lot of people have signed the sorry day book to say sorry but there is much more than can be done.

"Since the Redfern speech I would like to see things moving faster toward reconciliation, I just think it's taking a long time."

Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne said yesterday that Paul Keating's Redfern speech was a "landmark" in Australia's reconciliation process.

Mr Pyne credited it with kickstarting much of the progress that had been made in indigenous affairs.

Mr Keating used the speech to recognise the devastating impact of white settlement on Australia's Aboriginal population in the time since settlement.

"I think a lot has changed in the last 20 years and I think a lot of it can be pegged back to the speech by Paul Keating at Redfern 20 years ago today and I think it was a landmark event and I hope to think, I like to think, that much has changed in 20 years to improve the lives of indigenous Australians, but there is a lot more that should be done and can be done," he told Sky News.

Reconciliation Australia co-chairs Tom Calma and Melinda Cilento said it was "one of the most significant speeches ever delivered by an Australian political leader".

"Keating spoke frankly and honestly of the land theft, dispossession, violence and discrimination suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people in the course of modern Australia's creation."



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