'Welcome to Country' scrapped by Victorian Premier

Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin
Welcome to Country delivery

Maryjane Fenech ABC 774 (Melbourne) May 19, 2011

On the eve of National Reconciliation Week, Premier Ted Baillieu has scrapped the Labor party protocol which acknowledges traditional Aboriginal land owners and their elders past and present at public events. Do you think the acknowledgement is important or perhaps, a tokenistic? Wurrundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy told Sally she was 'disappointed' about the news and that it had broken during the Indigenous round of the AFL, adding she thought the acknowledgement to the traditional Aboriginal land owners was 'common courtesy.'

Shadow Indigenous Affairs minister Richard Wynne agreed with Aunty Joy telling Sally 'it was never compulsory edict from the former Labor government ... it is simply what Labor governments do', but former Premier Jeff Kennett took a different stance saying 'let's not just do it by rote, where people stand up there and mouth words without any feeling any passion.'

You can listen to the hectic half hour here:

AUDIO Audio file Aunty Joy Murphy, Richard Wynne, Jeff Kennett ABC 744 'Mornings with Sally Warhaft' - mp3 file

And after 9am Indigenous former AFL player and founder of The Long Walk, Michael Long and Northern Territory minister Malinndirri McCarthy joined Sally in the studio. While Michael Long told Sally he was very 'disappointed', the minister said it was 'a disgrace'. Former Premier Steve Bracks felt compelled to call in on the program and told Sally that 'the Premier sets the tone for the state'

You can listen to that interview here:

AUDIO Audio file Michael Long, Steve Bracks Etc
ABC 744 'Mornings with Sally Warhaft' - mp3 file

Murdock Newspaper demonstrates delight

It didn't take long for the Murdock newspaper 'The Herald Sun' to get busy writing articles demonstrating their strong support for the 'Welcome to Country' announcement.

Herald Sun online headlines on the same day as the ABC report on this page: Kennett hails Baillieu's move away from indigenous acknowledgments and Baillieu's changes show real respect.

The Herald Sun is the Newspaper that employs a columnist Andrew Bolt, who is defending a racial vilification case brought by nine prominent Aboriginal people. See: Aboriginal leaders sue Andrew Bolt, How the Murdoch press keeps Australia's dirty secret, Criticism of Behrendt hides political agenda

Keep acknowledgement, Dodson urges

AAP The Age May 19, 2011

Patrick Dodson

Aboriginal academic and leader Mick Dodson has implored the Victorian government to continue to acknowledge indigenous land owners at government functions.

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu says ministers should decide whether or not to acknowledge traditional landowners at public events, a departure from the previous Labor government's customary but not compulsory approach to the tribute.

Mr Dodson said today that acknowledgments of country were at the heart of the reconciliation movement.

"When you are sincerely recognised for who you are and what you contribute, you feel proud and connected," he said.

"I would challenge Victorians to continue to pay respects to the traditional owners."

The controversy comes as the federal government's expert panel on constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians launched their discussion paper on the issue.

Reconciliation Australia co-chair Melinda Cilento welcomed the move towards having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders recognised in the nation's "most important" document.

"Throughout our history so many indigenous Australians have helped define who we are as Australians today," she said.

"Yet they still don't have proper recognition for their contribution to our national identity."

Ex-Victorian premiers back Aboriginal welcome

ABC May 19, 2011

Three former Victorian premiers have spoken out about the controversial decision by the State Government to drop the protocol of using a "welcome to country" ceremony in official events.

Premier Ted Baillieu says he will still use the welcome at appropriate events, such as the funeral of boxer Lionel Rose earlier this week. But he says it should not be an automatic thing.

"I've simply said ministers should respect Indigenous communities and they should address these issues where appropriate. That's what I do," he said.

He says ministers need to use their judgment about where to use the welcome.

But former Labor premier Steve Bracks described the step as retrograde, saying Mr Baillieu sets the tone in the state.

"It was the practice that we thought was respectful of the first nation people in this country," he said.

"The thousands and thousands of times I started my speech with an Aboriginal welcome, I always felt very strongly about it and never ever did I feel it was a wooden, rote presentation."

He says it would be a real pity if people started using the decision to drop the welcome to embarrass the Baillieu Government.

Another former Labor premier, Joan Kirner, believes the ceremony is good not only for the Aboriginal people, but for Australian culture as a whole.

"I'm really very sad," she said on ABC Local Radio.

"It's a protocol that should be continued, but always together, never by decree, but always respectfully."

But former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett supports the change, saying sometimes the welcome is not appropriate.

"I felt it had become part of what I would call political correctness," he said.

"There are so many functions where I heard this and there was no relevance, no feeling. It was by rote and I think that is demeaning."


Ted Bailieu

anonymous user comment

If people like the aforementioned who stole this land and live off the procedes of crime are allowed to get away with stuff like saying that there can be no welcome to country...what sort of hell hole is this white man living in, in his mind? What sort of people allow this man to say something like this and do not oust such a human being from his perch? Australians, get with it. Start taking to the streets people. We do not want racists preaching their undervalued ideas. we don't want politicians dictating to us. The Howards, the Bailieus, the Bolts, etc we don't want white money men dictating to us. We want some loving kindness, compassion, a society not based on money and materialism at the forefront but a mix of various secular ethics. A truly healthy society that is not based on pretence and coercion of work. A human being who disrespects the Indigenous peoples after such massive struggles ought be ousted by the people.

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