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What's a 17-year Difference in Life Expectancy, Between Friends?

Australian Minister for Health Tony Abbott is really scraping the bottom of the barrel to try to sell Liberal* government to Aborigines:

Later he said he believed indigenous people were better off now than when the Howard Government came to power in 1996. When asked to identify progress in the past 11 years Mr Abbott acknowledged more needed to be done but nominated an increasing number of friendships between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

So his example of what the Government has done over the past decade is not improvements in health (his own portfolio), or even improvements in the criminal justice system or economic development (both of which other departments of the government have some control of). It's friendship, the one major area of life that the government can't directly influence. I guess that's Abbott's face-saviong way of admitting "yeah, we've been sitting on our hands."

Admitting such things directly is, of course, not on the agenda, as the Howard Government continues to refuse to say "sorry" to the Aboriginal community. The PM says he's interested in "practical reconciliation," as if there's somehow a tradeoff between practical measures and apologies that prevents you from doing both (and as if doing one of the top things that Aboriginal people are requesting is somehow impractical). And speaking of refusals to apologize to indigenous people, the Pope has also stood by his earlier comments about how great the forced Christianization of Latin America was.

*By which Australians mean "conservative."


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