ANZAC division: Ministers slam the RSL WA’s Indigenous policy

The Returned and Services League WA has been widely criticised today after a policy discouraging the use of indigenous languages and the Welcome to Country at ANZAC Day dawn services came to light.

The League called the use of such elements ‘divisive’, and unnecessarily singling out one culture.

Veterans and government ministers Paul Papalia and Peter Tinley today made scathing remarks about the policy, calling it “a step back into the past” that creates a problem where there was none.

The RSL WA denied that there was a policy preventing the flying of the Aboriginal flag that RSL Anzac day services, but stood by their decision to discourage the Welcome to Country and any indigenous languages in service.

Minister Peter Tinley said that he would not be following the RSL WA’s guidelines if he were to speak at a dawn service.

“If I understand the reporting correctly, it’s also saying that ministers and, and, and the governor when they get up to do the official duties aren’t to recognized country. Well I defy anybody in this day to tell Kim Beazley what he can’t say as our governor.”

“He will absolutely always recognize traditional ownership, as well I and no ban will stop us doing that.”

Tinley praised the practise of giving an Acknowledgement of Country at events, calling it an inclusive move that made the nation stronger.

“It is not hard to acknowledge the continuous occupation of this land for 40 or 50,000 years in the opening remarks. It makes us stronger not weaker.”

Minister Paul Papalia encouraged the RSL WA to “get a grip.”

“Look, I’ll just say get a grip. It’s not it’s not disrespectful, it’s actually respectful to bring acknowledgement of country or Welcome to Country to a very significant service that that is important to all of us and including Aboriginal veterans is a good thing.”

“I don’t know why they’ve done this because they’re creating an issue that didn’t exist.”

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