In a speech marking eight years since his apology to the Stolen Generation, former prime minister Kevin Rudd said it's "100% bullshit" to claim that Australia is not a racist nation.
"As one Aboriginal friend once said to me, even if it is a small minority that have this view, the words once spoken, racist words once spoken, still carry a great weight because they are powered by the force of history," he said at a speech at NSW parliament on Friday.
"Five years ago, as Prime Minister I said I did not believe that racism was at work in Australia," he said. Perhaps I was just naive back then. Perhaps just wishing that the better angels of our nature had begun to prevail in a newly reconciled Australia. Or perhaps I was just plain wrong."
Rudd pointed to the continued booing of AFL star and former Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, which eventually drove the three-time Brownlow medallist out of the game.
"I'm not exactly a connoisseur of the finer point of the game," Rudd said. "But I think the claim that this was to do with Adam Goodes as a sportsman and not to do with his Aboriginal identity, I think that claim, is 100% bullshit."
The former PM said it's up to Australians to call out racism where they see it.
"The next time any of us see or hear racist behaviour, it's very simple; don't be silent. Don't allow our indigenous brothers and sisters to stand alone."
The speech comes days after prime minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered the annual Closing The Gap speech on Indigenous disadvantage, which found staggering inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.
It found Indigenous Australians can expect to die around 10 years younger than the rest of the population and targets to close the life expectancy gap by 2031 are completely off- track.
“The health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is slowly improving but the current rate of progress will have to gather pace if the life expectancy target is to be met by 2031,” Turnbull says in the report.
The target to halve the gap in employment by 2018 has completely stagnated with the Prime Minister writing that “no progress” has been made since 2008.
However, there was some good news when it came to education, with more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders graduating from year 12 than ever before.
Indigenous child mortality rates are down by 33% between 1998 and 2014 and immunisation rates of a child by the age of five in the Indigenous community are much higher than the rest of the population.
Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Rob Stott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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