For me, Kevin Rudd's quality as a leader is best illustrated by his apology to the "stolen generations" of Aborigines. For years, Australia's government refused to apologize to Aborigines for past wrongs done to them most notably, the systematic removal of children from their parents, an official policy that continued until the 1970s. When Rudd, 50, was elected Prime Minister last November, his first substantive act was to issue a formal apology to Aborigines in general and to the surviving members of the stolen generations, their families and relatives.
It was a watershed moment: the Parliament building was filled with Aborigines; the grounds overflowed with many more people, and there were gatherings in every major city. Most Australians felt as I did, that wrongs were put right. We all felt our government had provided us the space to begin again. This unreserved apology will pave the way for genuine reconciliation between the nation's first peoples and nonindigenous Australians.
Rudd's other great achievement since taking office also required overturning years of government obstinacy: he ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. These measures suggest that his new government is prepared to think big and back it up with effective action.
Blanchett is an Australian-born Oscar-winning actress
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