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McCarthy, Cox slam Pauline Hanson's "disgraceful" motion to end Welcome to Country ceremonies

Jarred Cross -

Indigenous senators Malarndirri McCarthy and Dorinda Cox have slammed One Nation's Pauline Hanson for her proposal to end Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country ceremonies in parliaments, council chambers and from any official government proceedings, labelling the move "a disgrace".

On Wednesday, a letter from Senator Hanson's to the Upper House was read on her behalf after being temporarily gagged from speaking in the chamber after her controversial comments towards Pakistan-born senator Mehreen Saeed Faruqi earlier in the week.

On Monday, the One Nation senator told Senator Faruqi "if you don't see yourself as loving this country" she would willingly "take you to the airport and put you on a plane and wave you away" following conversations on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Hanson's latest proposal sought to see "welcome to country ceremonies and acknowledgements of country…abandoned in Australian parliaments, council chambers and from any official government proceedings".

The motion was made on claimed grounds of racial division, sovereignty of all Australians and off the back of the nation's overwhelming rejection of the Voice to Parliament.

It was supported by One Nation colleague Malcolm Roberts, who claimed comments from Marica Langton prior to October's referendum forecast ending the ceremony in the event of a no vote, stating Welcomes amount to "virtue signalling" and have become the "most racially divisive features of modern discourse in Australia".

"We've had a gutful. People are sick of being told Australia is not their country, which is what these things effectively do," he said.

"Start showing respect for the Aboriginal culture in Australia…Australians don't want this virtue signalling. Australians don't want racial division.

Liberal Senator Matt O'Sullivan later added their "overuse" has resulted in an "erosion" of significance.

United Australia Party's Ralph Babet said Australians have had "enough" of ceremonies, while Independant Senator David Pockock disagreed, stating they were a "generous" offer from First Nations people.

"I fear that at the core of this proposal is a deep insecurity about who we are as a country," Senator Pockock said.

Within discussion, the proposal received a robust response from Senator McCarthy.

The Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Health said she was "appalled" by the move, which she said had no relevance to question posed to Australians in the referendum.

"There was no question around welcome to country ceremonies. There were no questions, despite what this matter that One Nation has brought forward claims, of division or race. There was no question around sovereignty," Senator McCarthy said.

"What is happening here today is disgraceful.

"It did not say: 'Remove the languages, remove the culture and remove the kinship of families in this country—of First Nations people.' It did not ask that of Australians. It's an absolute disgrace from One Nation, but then they do have form, don't they?"

Senator McCarthy went on to seek Senate members remind themselves of previous "stunts" from One Nation.

"I would say to Australians listening that this matter before the Senate is absolute rubbish. It's a disgrace. It's beneath the Senate to even have this discussion here this afternoon. It shows a complete disregard for the First Nations people in this country, who've been here for over 65,000 years," she added.

"Please, all of you, all senators, let's watch out for the language that we use. One Nation, you won the referendum. Did you really need to bring this on?"

Senator Cox similarly rejected the motion, and "foul hatred that sits at the core of it" issuing a reminder "this land was taken by force, brutal violence and dispossession".

"You don't walk into somebody else's house without being welcomed in—in fact, to do so is a crime, so maybe this is in fact a crime scene. It is a sign of respect to the rightful custodians of this country, something that I think a lot of people in this place could learn a thing or two about," she said.

"An Acknowledgement of Country is the least that people can do. It's like walking into a room and acknowledging people who are already there. Not to do this is just damned ignorance.

"Time and time again, First Nations people have been knocked down. Time and time again, we've picked ourselves up, and we continue to fight for our rights in this country. That is what we have to do. We simply have no other option.

"This motion is in fact just another weak attempt to try and lay the boots into black fellas, post this referendum."

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