South Australian Council Becomes the First Since the Voice Referendum Failure to Dump Welcome to Country
Olivia Day, Daily Mail, November 28, 2023
A huge council has become the first to axe Welcome to Country acknowledgements at its meetings since the Voice to Parliament referendum was defeated.
Northern Areas Council, 200km north of Adelaide, earlier this month passed a motion to remove the official acknowledgement from meetings and remove it from official correspondence.
Mayor Sue Scarman said an Acknowledgement of Country had been read at the start of council meetings for two years.
Councillors had decided to dump the ritual because Australia was ‘one country’.
The motion was initiated by councillor Hank Langes and seconded by councillor John Barberien, but was not unanimous.
Cr Barberien did not respond to inquiries when contacted by Daily Mail Australia while Mayor Scarman and Cr Langes declined to comment.
However, Mayor Scarman told The Advertiser the decision was democracy in action.
An Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country is seen as an opportunity to show respect to Indigenous culture and Traditional Owners.
By incorporating the ritual into meetings, gatherings and events it reminds Australians they live and work on Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander lands, according to Reconciliation Australia.
On its website, the Northern Areas council says its wards are located within the ancestral lands of the Ngadjuri and Nukunu traditional owners.
The council covers areas in Adelaide’s Mid North like Jamestown, Georgetown, Gladstone, Spalding, Laura, Tarcowie and Yacka.
The decision comes after the overwhelming defeat of the Voice to Parliament and growing criticism that Welcome to Country has become overused in Australia.
South Australians surprised the Yes campaign by overwhelmingly voting against enshrining a Voice to Parliament in the constitution, with 61.47 per cent voting no.
All 10 of its federal electorates also voted No.
The council’s decision also comes just days after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson called for a ban on Welcome to Country after the referendum loss.
She said she wanted to hold leading Voice architect Professor Marcia Langton to her vow made in April that a No vote would end her performances of the ceremony.
‘We can only hope this promise is lived up to,’ said senator Hanson in a post on X of a speech she was unable to give in Parliament because of a censure motion.
She claimed Australians, some of them Indigenous people, were ‘sick’ of the ritual.
‘They’re recited at the beginning of every parliamentary sitting day, every council meeting, and every zoom meeting held by public servants,’ she continued.
‘We hear them at the conclusion of every domestic flight – you can hear the groans in the cabin every time.
‘They have effectively lost all meaning for their constant repetition.
‘Australians – including many Indigenous people – are sick and tired of them. They are sick of being told Australia is not their country.’