Welcome to country is insufferable, and acknowledgement of country is just as insufferable. And most Aussies I speak to feel the same way. If I talk to someone who is in an upper management position in an organisation they will often profess support for things like WTC and AOC in very corporate speak, saying things like, “Well, I think many people do appreciate this”, or “It’s our culture here to acknowledge the heritage of indigenous this or that…” But if you talk to ordinary Australians they are sick of having these rituals done at the start of every significant footy game or event, they just want to watch the footy or go to the theatre, or go to church, without being told this is not really their country or land.
And it is good to see Aussie icons saying the same thing,
Former footy great Sam Newman has launched another extraordinary attack on First Nations people and the AFL over 'welcome to country' speeches before matches.
Newman urged Australians to boo the traditional ceremony at not only this year's AFL grand final, but anywhere it is publicly performed.
'If we are at all serious about the welcome to country and the nonsense that has suddenly taken over in the last 20 years from a completely harmless introduction by Ernie Dingo some years ago and people have latched onto it,' he said.
'What about this, next time you go to a public event like the grand final or a football game or any public event in an auditorium and they trot out the welcome to country, start booing ... or slow hand clapping.'
Newman doubled down when he was challenged by podcast You Cannot Be Serious co-host Don Scott.
'Because we don't want to put up with it. We are not going to be patronised,' he said.[i]
Newman did not, as far as I have seen, in any of his comments attack first nations people at all. He simply said he is sick of these rituals being done at every significant sporting event. And many other Aussies feel the same way.
But my favourite comment of his as quoted in this article is this: “'But the virtuous, patronising nonsense that the AFL go on with - a patronising campaign to foster this feigned indignation to divert from their own paranoid white privilege - all they do is drive a wedge between the footballing public, yet we see through it”[ii] (emphasis added). Newman is right that many white Aussies have a sense of “paranoid white privilege” and because of this they over compensate by supporting any progressive push to lift up this or that minority group and particularly indigenous Australians. It is like they are afraid of the fact that they are white and they are terrified of being attacked as racist or some other -ist, so they go out of their way to preach these completely irrelevant messages and agendas at every event they can. They wave their, “look at me, I am among the virtuous” flags incessantly, and many Australians, whether indigenous or not, are simply sick of it.
I personally think this is one of the best side effects of the Voice to Parliament debate. Corporate Australia has bent over backwards to get behind the ‘yes’ campaign with such gusto they have put these indigenous rituals so often in the face of so many people, that it has provoked a backlash. I am a minister of the gospel, I prioritize the ministry of the Word over my enjoyment of football and many other things. But I would completely understand how annoyed people would get if every time they turned the footy on someone was preaching to them before they were allowed to enjoy the game. I love it when I see players pray and thank God, and publicly exalt God on social media and in the media, it is great, and I would love to see more of it. But there is such a thing as pushing the message too much so as to turn people of. And the elites have done that with indigenous issues.
People could tolerate welcome to country or acknowledgement of country when it was sparingly done. We saw it as an oddity, but now people are sick of it. And especially now that many of us realize that the promoters of these rituals genuinely believe they were morally superior. I think we have the Voice campaign to thank for this situation. Pagan ceremonies really have no place before a footy game, or stage play, and before a church service they should be anathema. It is time to be done with them completely.