In Grand Final week in the NRL and AFL the focus should be firmly on the two teams contesting the Premiership in each game. However the left and the elites are trying to use this weekend to hijack both events to try and provoke more victim and race politics in this country. Former NRL players Larry Corowa and Joe Williams have called on indigenous players in both football codes not to stand when the Australian national anthem is played before the game. It is importation of the divisive Black Lives Matter movement into Australia, which was on display recently with American NFL player Colin Kaepernick kneeling instead of standing for the national anthem.
This is not first time left wing activist have tried to import Black Lives Matter to Australia. In July this year they held a solidarity rally in Melbourne that also claimed that the treatment of indigenous Australians is why we needed Black Lives Matter here. It is also not the first time that they have tried to hijack a national event. Australia Day every year is termed Invasion Day because it supposedly is the beginning of the white genocide of the indigenous population. They have been successful in intimidating politicians to keep laws against free speech such as 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act because otherwise White Australians would be engaged in constant “racist hate speech”.
It is also not the first time that both the AFL and NRL have been used as platforms for social justice and left wing causes. Both codes support same sex marriage, the AFL has an Indigenous and Multicultural round every season and openly support the Recognize campaign, while the NRL has the Indigenous All Stars game every year.
If any indigenous player decided not stand in the national anthem this weekend it would serve as an insult to all other Australians insinuating that they are part of a racist country. It implies that our government has racist policies and citizens of other races are not equal, and would also be saying that everything that made Australia such a great country that it is today is invalid because of the racism in Australia’s past. It would certainly set off a huge round of racial tension in the community, Australians don’t take kindly to being told they are all racists. We saw this with Adam Goodes after he won Australian of the Year when in public address and interviews he called Australia a country built on racism and genocide. This was the major reason why in his final playing season in 2015 he was constantly booed by AFL crowds.
The implication that White Australians and Indigenous Australians are not equal is simply not true. Indigenous Australians were given the same rights as other Australians when they were counted as citizens in the change to Australia’s Constitution in the 1967 referendum, which was approved by the people with 91% yes vote. However there has been a more recent process which has made the races unequal and that is where the government has had different laws for rural and remote indigenous communities than the rest of Australia. This includes collective property rights and not holding indigenous Australians to same legal standards when violent crimes and sexual assaults take place. This is not to mention the special consideration those Australians of indigenous descent, in fields such education, where there are special scholarships for them just because of their race. So there is inequality between the races, but not in the way the activists claim.
One of the reasons given that indigenous players should not stand for the anthem is because Advance Australia Fair was written in 1878, at a time when there was racism against the indigenous population. Does that mean the song cannot still represent us, simply because of what else was happening at the time? We would have to remove most of the history of colonial Australia from our national identity if the claim is being made that anything that occurred during a time of racism was invalid from being considered part of our modern nation. Yes it is true that the indigenous population suffered grave injustices in the past during colonial Australia, which is why in modern history we have taken steps to correct it like all good nations do. It would be hard to argue in these modern times that indigenous Australians are worse off than they would be had white settlement ever occurred. They now have access to western food, medicine, technology and industrial progress. Because people in Australia’s history took some terrible actions in their lifetime that does not discount all of the good things they did in helping to build modern Australia. You would be hard pressed to find any historical figure of any race who did engage in violent or unjust activities.
The other reason that is used to encourage indigenous players to refuse to stand is because of police brutality to indigenous people and the statistics that indigenous children are 26 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous people and are 74 percent more likely to end up in prison as adults. But let’s put this in perspective, these statistics aren’t so because police are simply racist just picking up indigenous children and people off the streets and carting them off to jail. These statistics are so because of the huge bout of alcohol abuse, domestic violence, property damage, sexual abuse and welfare dependency in indigenous communities. This doesn’t make these statistics acceptable, but the solution that we simply need the police to simply stop being racist is not going to solve the issue at all. Improving the education and employment prospects of indigenous Australians as well as removing people from such remote communities where there is no prospect of a better life and removing at risk children from these communities are much more targeted solutions than simply blaming everything on racism.
These are things that these indigenous players should keep in mind when coming out onto the field on Grant Final day. Remember you are all the beneficiaries of the opportunities modern Australia offers to people of all races to achieve great things. Boycotting the standing for the national anthem would be displaying disdain for the nation that has given you so much and will also seek to alienate ordinary Australians on the issue of addressing indigenous disadvantage. Do not fall for the new race politics, look at the issues in indigenous communities objectively if you want to resolve these issues. Do not divide Australia this weekend and politicise what should be a great uniting national sporting event.