Freedom and Heritage is fed up with the politically correct puffery of the Welcome to Country ceremonies that now infest our public life in Australia. These are just one part of the politically correct charades imposed on the community by the overblown Aboriginal Industry. We have long had both federal and state legislation conferring Land rights. But we are now subjected to
- Welcome to Country rituals,
- Recognition of Traditional Owners,
- Smoking ceremonies,
- calls for Constitutional recognition,
- calls for a racially based Voice to Parliament,
- calls for a Treaty or series of them – already being acted upon in Victoria and South Australia, and
- tiresome yammering that Australia Day is “Invasion Day”, with demands to change the date.
In an article titled Welcome to WHOSE country? published in the Pickering Post on 7 May 2018, Professor Frank Salter nailed the hypocrisy and discrimination against the founders, pioneers, builders and defenders of our magnificent modern nation. [The article is still available at https://web.archive.org/web/20190307201711/http://pickeringpost.com:80/story/welcome-to-whose-country-/8306 .]
He says [excerpts]:
“The typical Acknowledgement of Country is incomplete and needs to be updated to include an acknowledgement of more than just the Aboriginal people who were here before the Australian Nation began. The following statement would be far more inclusive, and it honours not just the First People, but the founders of the nation itself.
“We acknowledge the explorers and pioneers and their descendants who planted the British flag and Christian faith on this continent, creating the Australian nation. We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have lived here since the Dreamtime. And we acknowledge the Federal Commonwealth of Australia, created by the nation under the Crown to guard the liberty of all citizens.”
“Detail could be added to fit the occasion. For example, the identity and achievements of the pioneers and indigenous peoples might be elaborated, as might the functions of the Commonwealth.
“The ‘Acknowledgment of Country’ ceremony purports to recognize Australia’s origins but focuses exclusively on indigenous peoples. It purports to respect the traditional owners of the land but ignores the nation’s sovereignty. This amounts to a psychological assault on most Australians. Because it is not accompanied by an acknowledgment of national origins the ceremony ritually degrades most Australians’ sense of national identity and alienates the nation from its homeland and from most of its history.
“The saddest examples are recitations at school assemblies, where children are told, repeatedly throughout the year, that their country belongs to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. The Acknowledgment appears to have taken the place of the loyalty pledge. “Only three per cent of Australians are of indigenous descent, yet the ritual makes no reference to the ancestors or national identity of the overwhelming majority of students. … “The Acknowledgment of Country needs to be supplemented to become an Acknowledgment of Nation, one that accurately describes national origins.
“Any recitation of national origins should have at its heart, a historically accurate description of how the nation was founded. Indigenous Australians are a part of that story because their ancestors occupied the land when it was settled under British auspices. Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are Australia’s first peoples. Anglo Australians are Australia’s first nation.“
Freedom and Heritage was highly irritated when at an Australian Citizenship ceremony in the Brisbane City Hall a few years ago, we endured interminable Aboriginal dances, a Welcome to Country, and no fewer than SIX recognitions of the traditional owners, from speakers at the ceremony. There was nothing about the modern nation of Australia which new citizens were joining. Whatever were they thinking?
Only ONE of the speakers – a Filipino lady from the Ethnic Affairs Council, actually told the assembled pledgers and audience that, in becoming Australian citizens, they are expected to obey Australian laws and respect the values of the Australian community!
Welcome To Country is a speech delivered by an aboriginal elder of the land and is a sign of respect to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land past, present and future. Today, it is common protocol for businesses, Local Governments, conferences and forums, sporting clubs, official openings and ceremonies, and other events for Welcomes to Country to be performed by an Aboriginal custodian of the land.
A smoking ceremony is an ancient aboriginal custom in Australia that involves burning various native plants to produce smoke, which has cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits from the people and the land and make pathway for a brighter future. This is, of course, pure paganism.
FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS Aboriginal people have performed a type of ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony when one tribal group sought to enter the lands of another. This traditional protocol took many forms, it could be spoken, sung, performed and possibly there would be a smoking ceremony, depending on the traditions of the local group.
Over 40 years ago these ceremonies first began to enter the Australian mainstream after a performance by West Australian Richard Walley and the Middar Theatre at the Perth International Arts Festival in 1976. Richard and other performers with the Middar Aboriginal Theatre officially welcomed Maori and Cook Islander dancers who were refusing to perform without one on the lawns of The University of Western Australia during a multicultural dance performance.
After seeking permission from local Nyoongar Elders, Richard spoke the Welcome in the local tongue. “I asked the good spirits of my ancestors and the good spirits of the ancestors of the land to watch over us and keep our guests safe while they’re in our Country. And then I talked to the spirits of their ancestors, saying that we’re looking after them here and we will send them back to their Country”. He followed it with a Nyoongar song about Country and then the Middar, which included TV personality Ernie Dingo, danced.
It had a stickiness, and the idea kept being picked up says Richard, first by the Northern Territory Tourism Board and then the Australian Tourism Board. A request to perform at the Miss Universe competition in Perth followed in 1979, and this performance (of a slightly truncated Welcome) was broadcast all over the world. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts, a national organisation which Richard chaired for many years, helped things along by encouraging The Australia Council for the Arts, the national arts body, to ask that grant recipients seek a Welcome when performing on indigenous land.
Welcome to Country has since been accused of tokenism. Supporters, however, see it as important expression of the connection indigenous groups have to their traditional lands and a means to communicate to non-indigenous people the diversity of indigenous nations and traditions. This diversity is reflected in the fact that there is no set performance, although a spoken acknowledgement of ancestors and the land is a common element.
In recent years Welcome to Countries have been extended to everyone from British royalty to the thousands that attended the 2000 Olympics Opening Ceremony. At lesser events it’s common for either an indigenous person or a non-indigenous person to say an Acknowledgement of Country, a short speech that recognises the continuing connection of Australia’s first peoples to Country and their cultural custodianship of that land. Where an elder is not available to perform the Welcome, or there is not a recognised traditional owner, an Acknowledgement of Country may be offered instead.
The hard Left, of course, contribute their usual denigration of the nation. The Trotskyist Socialist Alternative describes itself as a a revolutionary Marxist organisation which stands for “the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of a world socialist system. … Socialists are internationalists. We reject Australian patriotism and nationalism …”
Calls to get rid of Australia Day or change the date are an insult to most of the 26 million people who now live in this country. Australia Day, January 26, marks the foundation of the British colony of New South Wales by Captain Arthur Phillip. This is the foundation of what became our nation. Those who denigrate it – a few, unrepresentative, ultra-activists among Aborigines, and a plethora of brain-addled Useful Idiots – overlook the number of special Aboriginal events we already have, yet they would deny the great majority of us, both British and non-British by origin, the right to celebrate the origin of our magnificent modern Australian nation.
A pox on them.