Posted on August 14, 2023

Jacinta Price Calls for Australia to Ditch ‘Divisive’ Welcome to Country Acknowledgements

Padraig Collins, Daily Mail, August 13, 2023

Jacinta Price has called for Welcome to Country acknowledgements before sports games and other events to be scrapped, arguing the tradition is sending a message to non-Indigenous Australians that ‘this isn’t your country’.

The Opposition Indigenous Australians spokeswoman followed former prime minister Tony Abbott, who said he was ‘getting a little bit sick’ of the practise.

‘There is no problem with acknowledging our history, but rolling out these performances before every sporting event or public gathering is definitely divisive,’ Ms Price told The Australian.

The Senator, who has Aboriginal Walpiri and European heritage, is one of the main leaders of the opposition to the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

‘Australians don’t need to be welcomed to their own country,’ she said.

‘It’s not welcoming, it’s telling non-Indigenous Australians “this isn’t your country” and that’s wrong. We are all Australians and we share this great land.’

Ms Price’s intervention followed days of attacks on the practise from past and present conservative politicians.

Mr Abbott, who was appointed as a special envoy on Indigenous Affairs by then prime minister Scott Morrison in 2018 said Australia ‘belongs to all of us, not just to some of us’.

He also expressed his dislike of how commonly the Aboriginal flag is being used, saying he was ‘getting a little bit tired of seeing the flag of some of us flown equally with the flag of all of us …

‘And I just think that the longer this goes on, the more divisive and the more difficult and the more dangerous that it’s getting now.’

Peter Dutton has been accused of rolling out the same excuses he used against the apology to the Stolen Generations 15 years ago to oppose the Voice to Parliament.

The fierce opponent of the Voice has been leading the charge in questioning whether it will deliver practical outcomes for First Nations people and the cost to the public at a time when families are struggling to buy groceries and pay rent.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said while he thought that Welcome to Country was a ‘respectful way to acknowledge the Indigenous heritage of our country’, it is used too much, and often as an exercise in virtue signalling.

‘I do get the point that when you go to a function and there’s an MC who I think appropriately can do recognition, you then get the next five or 10 speakers who each do their own acknowledgment to country,’ he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

‘And frankly, I think it detracts from the significance of the statement that’s being made.

‘I think there are a lot of corporates that just do it because they think it’s what people want to hear.’

One of the places the acknowledgment of country is heard most often is in the federal parliament, where it is made every sitting day alongside the Lord’s Prayer in both chambers.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said on Sunday that Welcome to Country speeches and ceremonies had ‘just gone over the top.’

‘I think unfortunately what’s happened – it’s not just sporting events – you can go to a meeting and everyone makes an acknowledgment,’ he said.

‘I think it’s gone overboard. It’s gone too far. Is it necessary? I think it’s a reasonable question to ask.’

Ms Price is not the only Aboriginal woman to take issue with the Welcome to Country practise.

Aunty Narelle McRobbie spoke about it in a video question on ABC’s Q+A show last Monday night, broadcast from the Garma Festival in the Northern Territory.

‘I am a tribal Aboriginal woman and I hate the Welcome to Country,’ she said.

‘As a tribal person, why? Welcome every other b*****d on country when I, as an Aboriginal person have never felt welcomed on my ground.

‘On my own dirt, never been felt welcomed. Welcome everyone in to continue to take, take, take, take,’ she said.

It was also not the first time Ms Price has hit out at Welcome to Country ceremonies.

In her first speech to parliament in July 2022, she said ‘Throughout Australia, the reinvention of culture has brought us Welcome to Country or recognition of country.

‘A standard ritual practice before events, meetings and social gatherings by governments, corporates, institutions, primary schools, kindergartens, high schools, universities, workplaces, music festivals, gallery openings, conferences, airline broadcasts and so on and so forth.

‘I personally have had more than my fill of being symbolically recognised,’ she said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Senator Price seeking further comment.