“Indigenous languages under threat, UN finds
Posted Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:08pm AEDT
ABC news Updated Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:07pm AEDT
The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO says more than 100 languages in Australia are in danger of extinction.
Read more for what Kevin has to say about language and culture – and note how he attempts to pass off a false version of history in regard to Australia’s position in relation to Papua – Shame, Kevin, shame!
Transcript of speech by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Australia-Indonesia Conference Dinner
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
19 February 2009
“When we in the Australian Government, and this Australian Labor Government, look back at the history of the Australian-Indonesia relationship, we are intensely proud of our role in the events of 1947. We know them, we actually understand that Prime Minister Chifley and Foreign Minister Evatt at the time were doing something quite unusual for a Western country in relation to a colonial power, namely the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with what we said as a party in the government at the time was, we will side with the people of Indonesia in their act of self-determination.
And I believe that pride is shared more broadly across the Australia political spectrum, as from the beginning, from those difficult days of independence and the difficult times which were experienced by your independence movement at the end of the Second World War, that we have some pride in what our government did then in support of Indonesia’s legitimate expression of its right to self-determination.
And I look back at what has happened with the great Indonesian Republic since 1947, and look to the present, I see this extraordinary transformation. This extraordinary act of nation building. It is remarkable across the 17,000 islands. More than 230 million people. You have fashioned this vibrant democracy.
You have fashioned this strong and growing economy despite the challenges we all now face. And a society which is intrinsically tolerant.
Mention before was made of the study of pancasila and the whole concept of diversity and unity, and unity and diversity.
For Australians, this may seem to be an interesting concept as we think we have diversity here and we do. Spending a few weeks or a few months rolling around Indonesia is where you really encounter diversity. From Banda Aceh in one extreme to West Papua at the other and all points in between. From the high cultures of Borobodur through to the outermost parts of Kalimantan and Sulawesi, it is a remarkable thing which Indonesia has done. To fashion this vibrant country, this robust democracy, this growing and strong economy, and this cultural tradition of tolerance and mutual respect. I personally would simply congratulate our friends in Indonesia for the extraordinary achievement of your national community.”
“I believe there is a great spirit of goodwill across our peoples towards one another and that’s reflected in their responses most recently to natural disasters.
But there is more to be done and part of the pathway to doing more is looking again at how we do better these great challenges of language, of culture and religion. Australia needs to do better, a lot better, in our level of Indonesian language study, in development of Indonesian studies within our universities and in our schools and our understanding of the enormous complexity that is Indonesian Islam.
And what we have as vision for Australia, as the Government of the country is this: to create in this country in Australia, the most Asia-literate country in the west. A country which, as Geraldine said before, regards the languages and cultures of this wider region as not foreign but familiar. That we understand, intimately, the cultures and high cultures of this great region, including those which are contained within modern Indonesia.
So we have a challenge and that is to do better than we have and we intend to rise to that challenge. One of the proposals the President of Indonesia and I have agreed on is in the area of faith and belief. How do we as Australia and Indonesia, for the future, become models for how the great dialogue and understanding which can occur between Christianity and Islam, be taken further?
And we will between us, at an appropriate time soon, host between us a great conference, a large conference on interfaith dialogue. Some may say, well that is soft and that is not really a core part of a hard political or economic relationship. I disagree. I think this is in fact exceptionally important to the way in which our peoples’ understanding of one another unfolds into the future.
So it is through practical measures such as that, in language and culture and faith and interfaith dialogue, that there is much to be done and this Government of Australia intends to do it.”