'Show some respect': Ugly new fallout in Australia Day furore

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured right, Big Bash cricketer Dan Christian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Dan Christian's criticism of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire from a Qld politician. Pic: Getty

Sydney Sixers star Dan Christian has been told to "show some respect" after criticising the Prime Minister over his Australia Day remarks regarding Cricket Australia.

Scott Morrison sparked an angry backlash on Thursday while discussing CA’s decision to stop using the term 'Australia Day' for the trio of Big Bash matches being played on the January 26 public holiday.

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As well as doing away with the 'Australia Day' wording, three BBL clubs will wear Indigenous jerseys and one game this weekend will have a barefoot circle, Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony.

The initiatives come from CA’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee (NATSICOC), in a bid to normalise conversation about January 26’s history.

The Prime Minister told CA to stick to cricket, while Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton labelled it a “token attempt” and urged the sport to reverse the call.

"It's not cricket. That would be my reaction," Mr Morrison told reporters this week.

“Australian cricket fans would like Cricket Australia to focus a lot more on cricket and a lot less on politics.”

The PM then sparked further controversy by comparing the plight of Indigenous Australians to that of the country's first European settlers - a sentiment criticised by many Indigenous stars such as Cathy Freeman and Anthony Mundine.

“On Australia Day, it’s all about acknowledging how far we’ve come,” Mr Morrison told reporters on Thursday.

“You know, when those 12 ships turned up in Sydney, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either.”

Seen here, Australian PM Scott Morrison and boxer Anthony Mundine.
Anthony Mundine has taken exception to Scott Morrison's comments about Australia Day. Pic: Getty

Indigenous star Christian was just one of several names in the cricket world - including Usman Khawaja and Megan Schutt - to slam the PM over his comments.

“@ScottMorrisonMP read the room Mr Prime Minister. @CricketAus are leading the way because your government won’t," Christian tweeted on Friday.

"There’ll be millions of kids watching our @BBL games on the 26th January, and they’ll see us taking a knee against racism, and promoting inclusion for all. Take note.”

The veteran allrounder's comments drew a scathing response from Queensland Liberal senator, Gerard Rennick, who labelled Christian a "self-entitled, privileged, professional sportsman with a persecution complex".

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“Maybe Dan Christian should read the federal budget. Billions are spent on assisting Aboriginals each year," Rennick said to Christian on Twitter.

"Every day parliament starts it has to acknowledge past, present & future Aboriginal elders & the millions of dollars in land title royalties paid to Aboriginals are tax free.

“There is nothing inclusive about the actions of Cricket Australia vilifying Australians just because they are proud of their country. They shouldn’t feel guilty or be afraid of celebrating Australia Day.

“You read the room Christian & show some respect to the millions of Australians who will be celebrating Australia Day, not watching BBL games.

“Unlike yourself, the majority of non-Indigenous Aussies, like the majority of Indigenous Aussies, just want to get along with each other.

Seen here, Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick during Question Time in the Senate chamber.
Liberal senator Gerard Rennick has told Dan Christian to 'show some respect' over his Australia Day criticism. Pic: AAP

“Injustices were carried out throughout our history, but the majority of immigrants to this nation were either fleeing persecution themselves or attempting to start a better life.

“Celebrating Australia Day is recognition of what a great country we have become and a chance to honour those who made it the country it is.”

Christian refused to be dragged into the ugly war of words on Twitter, replying instead with a measured explanation of his stance to the Queensland politician.

“Morning Senator. I don’t need to read the budget, that’s above my pay grade. I’m purely supporting @CricketAus stance to change the date to a day that isn’t the anniversary of the beginning of the attempted genocide of our First Nations people. That’s all champ. Enjoy your day.”

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