The President of the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, Sr Margaret Cassidy has strongly criticised the Prime Minister's statement that Aboriginal reconciliation will not be achieved by the 31 December deadline.
   Sr Margaret said such a statement was outrageous and nothing less than a betrayal of all those people who have participated in the reconciliation consultation process to date.
   She said: "How can Mr Howard label the deadline as a mistake when he committed himself to its aims on the election night? How can we have trust in any other promises he makes?"
   "Reconciliation is a process that evolves and develops over time. Through extensive consultation over the past ten years we have now a document which expresses the hopes and dreams of a growing number of Australians. It is an accepted vision in the process of realization and many positive steps have been taken.
   "It is extremely disappointing that the leader of this country has downplayed the whole reconciliation process by saying that the setting of a deadline for reconciliation was a big mistake. His statement to the media has practically guaranteed that reconciliation will be an extremely slow process indeed."
ACLRI 29/2/00

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