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Toowoomba Diocese Commission challenges MP on racism denial

The Social Justice Commission of the Diocese of Toowoomba has labelled recent comments by Federal MP Peter Slipper as "hurtful and ill-informed", and called on him to apologise.

Mr Slipper said at the weekend that posters promoting Australian film Rabbit Proof Fence in the United States portray Australians as racist and should be changed. He said the posters, which ask the question "What if the government kidnapped your daughter?", wrongly infer that Australians are racist and are "factually incorrect".

"Mr Slipper joins a small list of white males who use their public platforms to make twisted and often baseless attacks on the painful experiences of Aboriginal families and communities that have been harshly effected by past government policies," said the Commission's Executive Officer Mark Copland. "If Mr Slipper really cared about Australia's reputation he would be urging his parliamentary colleagues to implement the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report along with the Final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation."

Copland, who is completing a PhD looking at the forcible removal of Aboriginal people in the state of Queensland between 1859 and 1971, spent over two years of archival research compiling a database of removals of Aboriginal men, women and children. He offered to supply Mr Slipper with documentary evidence to disprove the MP's claims.

"This cheap shot is particularly hurtful in the week leading up to the Journey of Healing - National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week," he said. "As Pope John Paul II stated in his message to the peoples of Oceania - "The past cannot be undone, but honest recognition of past injustices can lead to measures and attitudes which will help to rectify the damaging effects for both the indigenous community and the wider society."

MP calls for change to Rabbit Proof Fence posters (SMH 20/5/02)
Rabbit Proof Fence

Toowoomba Diocese

22 May 2002