BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: The Indigenous All Stars team embrace for the national anthem before the NRL match between the Indigenous All-Stars and the World All-Stars at Suncorp Stadium on February 13, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
When the Australian National Anthem played before the start of the All Stars match, the Indigenous All-Stars refused to sing along. It provoked a storm of protest, with captain Cody Walker and immortal Mal Meninga calling for change.
Walker recounts the uncomfortable feeling of the anthem being played, claiming it does not represent himself or his family.
His team triumphed to a 34-14 win over the Maori All-Stars in Melbourne, in front of 18,802 spectators. Whilst Advance Australia fair was being performed, the spectators were mainly silent.
This was a different case in contrast to the Maori Side, who gave an inspiring performance of God Defend New Zealand, representing both the native and inhabitants of New Zealand with performances in English and Maori.
Walker was asked if he was comfortable at the time, he told ABC:

“To be honest, no,” he said.

“It just brings back so many memories from what’s happened and I think everyone in Australia needs to get together and work something out.

“It doesn’t represent me and my family.”

Walker encourages Australians to reconsider the use of the anthem and make a decision that suits the interests of the Indigenous community.

“I don’t have the answer, but we as a group probably need to come together and as a country, we need to come together and make some sort of decision together,” he said.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, immortal Mal Meninga has called for a referendum, concerning the future of the anthem.

“I can’t see any reason why we can’t ask all of Australia once again what is a true and contemporary song for Australia now,” Meninga said.

“Let’s have a referendum.”

Meninga says the anthem was enshrined to the public under the Nation’s consent after it was selected as the national song from a survey in 1974. He says now is the time Australia should have another discussion about changing the anthem.

“That all came about through the nation’s consent,” Meninga wrote.

“And while the Indigenous population has been talking about Advance Australia Fair for a long time, I cannot see why there can’t be a debate about it again now.

“Times have changed since the last decision was made. We’ve had major decisions around Indigenous Australia, such as native title recognition and cultural heritage being revived.

“We’ve had the national Sorry Day so Australians — all Australians — are very aware of our national history, maybe more aware than they were before.

“So we can have a national debate and let the people of Australia have their say.

“If we have a national anthem that offends our Indigenous people, let’s see what all of Australia thinks.

Meninga and Walker have both been at the centre of divided controversy, but have gained an influx of support from the Indigenous community.


  1. Disrespectful.
    They don’t deserve to have this game every year.
    Scrap it or change it to Maori v Island nations (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and PNG combined).
    Would make for a game worth watching.

  2. I don’t get it. The anthem says “Australians ALL let us rejoice”, surely the ALL part or the Australians part represents him, his family and his people who we call the first Australians.
    Don’t want to sound like a ignorant white blank but what am I missing? Can someone explain this to me.

  3. He says the anthem doesn’t represent him and it’s not part of his ” culture ” . Well before colonization there was no rugby league or money for that matter, so perhaps he can return the salary he collects.

  4. I can understand him saying it’s not part of his culture, Indigenous Australians have never lived with a national anthem nor a flag come to think of it. Each tribe lived under their own “totem”.
    But it would seem they have adopted a flag so why not give them the anthem they want.
    I don’t have a problem with that but what I do have a problem with is, if anyone, from whatever race, ethnic origin – whatever you want to call it, has a problem representing their country for any reason then step aside and make room for someone who is proud to represent ALL Australians. If the captain can’t do it, move him on, if the Australian coach has a problem, move him on.
    Look at the pride and emotion on the faces of the New Zealand players, call me deaf, but I didn’t hear one complaint, nothing but sheer pride on the faces of their players representing THEIR country under THEIR anthem, which was written by an Irishman by the way.
    We will never have reconciliation in this country until we ALL meet halfway.
    Give them their anthem, but until it’s organised, stand up with pride or get out of the team. This is a game, not a political arena. Here we are all Aussies together, but if you don’t want to be, then you know where to go. I reckon there’s a lot of guys waiting for a chance in the big time.

  5. Spot on. Rugby League was created by white man, so dont play the game if its not their culture.
    The Australian anthem was chosen in a national plebiscite by all australians at the time. It was for all to choose black and white.

  6. The last referendum for a national anthem, we almost ended up with Waltzing Matilda. You let current people vote for a song, and I guarantee we’ll end up with “Down Under” or “You’re The Voice”.

  7. It was written in 1878, when the spirit of inclusiveness for those of non-European descent was absent in Australia. While some might try to retroactively change the spirit of the song, they clearly think it’s better to start with a new song on a clean slate.

  8. I’m talking about the last 3 decades cause the anthem has only been in since the early 80’s if I’m correct

  9. We were not representing our country we were representing our people our culture just as USA represents itself at the olympics or China representing the Chinese japan representing Japanese. The indigenous were representing aborigines plane and simple

  10. It’s not a very strong message if it’s just for 1 day. Is Latrell Mitchell (the only dual representative) going to start proudly blasting the anthem when he represents Australia but be opposed to it when he represents the Indigenous All Stars?

  11. Advance Australia Fair doesn’t represent me either. I was born in England so should I sit and sulk before every game ? It doesn’t represent my neighbour – he has Italian heritage and what about my brother’s Chinese wife ?

    We are all Australians now and Australia chose Advance as its National Anthem so shouldn’t we all band together under the one banner that represents us all ? History is history, and a lot of bad things happened throughout history. My father was killed by the Germans in the second world war – should I sook and refuse to work with my German mates ? NO. Its high time Cody grew a pair and realised what being Australian really means.

  12. Well said Rucky 👍
    Everyone should just get on with life and worry about more important issues plaguing our world instead of crying about national anthems.

  13. Your not indigenous so you’ll never know how Cody walker feels. Why not be a decent human and try to understand where he’s pain is coming from instead of being a cynical knob

  14. Yeah how about forget everything who cares about the anzacs who died at Gallipoli. Could you imagine all the angry whites if you told them to get over Anzac Day and everything it represents. Commence the all whites whinging session in the comments below

  15. We’re ALL a bunch of mongrel breads now anyway, we all have splashes of something else EVERYBODY in this country. Moving forward I don’t think it’s white Australians causing the divide I think it’s the complete opposite. The current generations are not responsible for actions of the past barbarism of European settlers so why dwell on the past how can we move forward as a country. Advance Australia Fair was written by a Scottsman I think the current lyrical evolve of the song represents us all equally.

  16. Great little speech there woody let’s have another look at the words
    For we are young and free….
    So judging by those words shouldn’t Cody walker be free not to sing. Shouldn’t he be free to express he’s views and he’s personal feelings towards any injustice??? Or is that free part just for people like you

  17. I’ve been to New Zealand several times.
    The first time I’d also accidentally walked into a Maori Pub. The few of us that walked in stopped immediately on entering, as we were receiving looks of death from the regular patrons . We had no idea before then, that there were seperate pubs for Maori people & other New Zealanders. To be fair, they treated us with kindness & respect . Once they heard our accent & knew that we weren’t white skinned New Zealanders. They allowed us to stay.
    Having said that NZRLFAN. Clearly all is not peaches & cream in the land of the Long White Cloud either.
    No one can change the past . All we can do is try for a better future together. Wherever you’re from.

  18. I think you’ll find that all the people who fought in the Wars wherever they are from , are represented on ANZAC Day. It’s inclusive.
    Do you think I shouldn’t talk to any Getmans now, or should protest against them if they sing their national anthem? As they killed my relatives on the Western Front?
    That would be pretty dumb.
    I know the Getmans now didn’t do it. So what’s the point?
    Still, I don’t have any worries about an Indigenous team wanting to sing another anthem . If the team feels it represents them better. What do you suggest?
    What language would it be sung in. There’s hundreds of different indigenous nations languages.

  19. Good one back2back19 or wood sook. Go eat some bugs I bet you learnt that one from your daddy while the two of you were hanging around the barn playing penis butt

  20. Toddy , you shouldn’t be talking about eating bugs because if not for European contact thats exactly what you and your ilk would be doing along with wondering where your next meal comes from.
    Up the Tigers.

  21. Why apologise to the Germans, They are currently having a crack at taking over Europe for the third time lucky. The first two World Wars they tried with military force. but this third time they have got control legally via the EU.🙃

  22. For all Australians to be aware of this sad issue. Not singing the National Anthem will make 20million Aussies plus aware of this predicament. What do you suggest needs to happen❓

  23. Not singing the National Anthem unfortunately will not make 20million Aussies plus aware of this predicament which is why in my initial post i explicitly stated protesting anthems is only one aspect of racial based protesting, I also said the failure to not raise these issues shows that Walker was not actually going out of his way to make a protest but simply answered the question when asked why he didnt sing the anthem.
    As to what needs to happen? The sad reality is there is no easy solution. The government has poured millions of dollars into trying to tackle the issue with minimal results. Having said that colleagues who know significantly more about how the government allocates their funding then i do often complain about such funding ignoring suggestions of research in the field.
    To me education is key, but not though tokenistic scholarships and similar programs that currently exist but investing more in schools right from primary to the HSC in areas such as those identified above. This is limited to just having more/better schools there but increasing access such as more school buses, increasing motivation and nutrition through programs such as breakfast or lunch programs for needy kids and providing various after-school programs to avoid at risk students falling into trouble outside regular school hours. Involving Indigenous community leaders in such programs to encourage the community to support the schools would help as well. This increased schooling should be followed by pathways into genuine employment opportunities.
    Id also like to see the media highlight some of the issues ive discussed, particularly when reporting on topics such as Indigenous players not singing the anthem to increase non-Indigenous awareness of Indigenous issues.

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