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We are in the era of the apology.
"I would like to apologise to all Australia supporters," Australian (and perhaps future Japanese) rugby coach Eddie Jones said after the 40-6 thrashing of the Wallabies in the World Cup.
"I know that we have let you down in many ways and for that, I am sorry," the new chief executive of Qantas, Vanessa Hudson, said.
Her predecessor (one Alan Joyce) apologised over flight delays and cancellations: "There are good reasons why, but when it comes to what you expect from Qantas, it's not good enough. On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologise."
As apologies go, the last one is the slippery. It's true Mr Joyce used the word "sorry" but the key is in the phrase "there are good reasons why". In other words, he is not accepting responsibility. He uses the s-word but distances himself from the act for which he uses it. And he offers no remedies.
It implies that the delays were not Qantas' fault and certainly not Mr Joyce's.
In contrast, his successor's apology seems strong. Qantas has actually allocated money to making things right (or less wrong) and money is a good test of intention. Vanessa Hudson has put (shareholders') money where her mouth is.
On these criteria, Eddie Jones' apology to Australian rugby supporters counts as a real apology. He takes responsibility. The restitution and repetition bits are missing, no doubt because making things right is beyond his power. If only it wasn't, the supporters might say.
None of the "apologies" above - or at least the use of the s-word - is as slippery as that of the broadcaster Alan Jones after he had said that Julia Gillard's father must have died of shame at her "lies".
"This was a throwaway thing at a private function, which I thought was a private function," he said as the negative reaction rose around him. "The comments were, in the light of everything, unacceptable. They merit an apology by me."
This one really was slippery. He never actually apologised - he just said the remarks "merited" an apology. He talked about the comments as though they came from nowhere rather than out of his own mouth. The regret seemed to be that they became public rather than that he had ever said them in the first place.
His words were "unacceptable" but to whom exactly? It's reminiscent of the "I'm sorry if you were upset" sort of non-apology.
So what makes a good apology?
The Australian Institute of Management sets out four criteria:
"For apologies to work, there have to be four Rs:
The Commonwealth Ombudsman agrees but adds a fifth R:
The Ombudsman has good advice: "A good apology needs to be genuine, sincere, tailored to the individual and the situation. Consider giving an apology even if the person hasn't requested it."
So I'm sorry if you didn't like this advice but there's nothing I can do about it. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do email your thoughts about non-apology apologies. Any good examples? Email your response to email@example.com.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- The Prime Minister said Australia faces enormous challenges as the summer ahead is forecast to be hotter, drier and carry the risk of intense bushfires. "We have a real challenge ahead of us with the summer that is coming," Anthony Albanese told reporters in Adelaide.
- Mr Albanese confirmed that Mike Pezzullo would stand aside from his job as Home Affairs secretary for the course of the Australian Public Service Commission investigation, which would be led by former commissioner Lynelle Briggs.
- Farmers will be on the frontline of climate change as droughts worsen and become more frequent, the Treasurer warned. Crop yields could decrease 4 per cent by 2063 and cost the nation about $1.8 billion in GDP, Jim Chalmers said.
- A trial has begun in the Federal Court in a case brought on behalf of 11 women and 20 children seeking to be returned to Australia from detention in a camp in northern Syria.
THEY SAID IT: "I can say that I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought," Tony Blair not apologising for the Iraq War.
YOU SAID IT: I opined on identity - hyphenated Australians, mongrel identity, in particular. You opined back.
"I consider myself very much an Aussie but proud of my heritage," Joe said. "Conceived in Italy, Ukrainian father, German mother, born in Uranquinty, Australia. People immediately ask 'Where's Uranquinty ?' It's a former RAAF base just outside Wagga Wagga which was converted into a migrant camp in late 1940s to accommodate the influx of migrants.
"I definitely barrack for Australia where international sport is concerned."
Julia wrote: "Me - DNA mostly European origin with a whiff of South East Asian. Father, South African since 1681, Mother - her father descended from an Irish convict and mother Midlands Pommie. Proud to be a mongrel."
Bob says: "'We are one but we are many'. DNA says I'm 43 per cent from England and northwest Europe, 36 per cent Scot, 8 per cent Welsh, 7 per cent Irish and 6 per cent Scandinavian. So which of those am I? Nah. I'm just Australian.
"My wife is 1/8 Maori (Maori-princess - great-grandmother married a Scottish sailor). My wife and daughter are proud of their Maori ancestry, but don't class themselves as Maori, they're just Australian like me."
Jennifer thanked me: "You have neatly explained the root cause of my husband's ability for intense gloom, his Welsh ancestry."
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