I recently gave a speech about the “welcome to country” practice in the Senate chamber, and the positive response I’ve received from people across the nation has been a strong indication that many Australians are done with the virtue-theatre and whinge-politics.
Every person born in this country is an Australian citizen, so the idea that one group of us must welcome another group is breaking down social cohesion in this country. We must all go forward, together, as people of different heritages who are citizens of the same country.
We need less empty, moralising symbolism and more practical, sensible action when it comes to confronting the issues that indigenous people face - issues such as crime, poverty, incarceration, and lower life expectancy. Endless welcomes to country will not make the slightest dent in reducing these.
As I said in my speech, the “welcome to country” is not an ancient or traditional practice. It was invented for television and picked up by activists and left-wing bureaucracies. At best, it is misguided virtue-signalling. At worst, it is intentionally divisive, designed to cultivate an oppressed/oppressor dynamic between Australians. The leftist welfare state always seeks to benefit from cultivating a victimhood mindset rather than taking practical action to unite and help citizens.
Australians have been talking about “reconciliation” between indigenous and non-indigenous people for a long time now. We’ve had reconciliation days, a national apology, various government programs designed to assist indigenous people, native title laws, and yet the finish line never emerges. If the “Voice to Parliament” referendum succeeds, the next item on the grievance agenda will be a treaty. As long as we keep indulging it, Australians will only grow more divided.
Fundamentally, the “welcome to country” performance tells Australian citizens who aren’t indigenous that they do not inherently belong here, that they do not have the right to call Australia home, and that they do not have the right to be proud of, and grateful for, their heritage.
Well, here’s a message to the grievance industry: All Australians have the right to be proud of their heritage, whether it be European or indigenous. All Australians have the right to call Australia home. All Australians belong here.
Those who peddle bitterness and resentment, rather than gratitude and practical action, should be ignored. So, let’s stop welcoming people to their own country and start appreciating it together.
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Liberal Senator for South Australia