Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Australia Day cricket comments "unfair" says expert

Photo: File
Photo: File

ANU expert Professor Bill Fogarty says the Prime Minister's comments regarding Cricket Australia's decision to remove "Australia Day" from its branding for matches held on the 26th are "unfair".

Professor Fogarty, who wrote the seminal report "For the Love of The Game" - which looks into the state of Indigenous engagement with cricket - alongside Professor Mick Dodson, added that "for a certain sector of the community, Australia Day is uncomfortable, it's a day of pain and Cricket Australia's mantra is to be a sport for all so this move makes sense".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday told radio station 4RO: "I think a bit more focus on cricket, and a bit less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia..."

But Professor Fogarty said that "this has nothing to do with politics - it's a smart way for a sport to proceed."

Cricket Australia's indigenous engagement specialist Courtney Hagen says "this move is about consistency with Cricket Australia's Reconciliation Action Plan which has been in place for about two years".

"We have a responsibility and accountability to lead on reconciliation," she said.

"We understand that for many people this is a day of mourning, and many people don't feel safe. Every time someone goes to the cricket, no matter when it's on, we want them to feel safe and able to have a good time. The cricket on the day will be exactly the same."

The move was undertaken based on advice from Cricket Australia's Indigenous Advisory Council.

Ms Hagen added that they have "received lots of support from Indigenous people and our non-Indigenous allies - but these are small steps. We're looking to create a movement."

Cricket has had a complicated relationship with Indigenous Australians.

Despite early involvement in the sport, including an overseas tour in 1868, and several towering figures the game reveres to this day, First Nations people have long been excluded from the sport.

We delved into the issue in the podcast. Listen to Voice of Real Australia episode 9 now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen.