Anthony Mundine has revisited his criticisms of Advance Australia Fair after an Indigenous-themed rendition at a Wallabies Test sparked a renewed debate across the country.
Wiradjuri woman Olivia Fox sung an Indigenous-themed version of the national anthem before the Wallabies, wearing a First Nations jersey, played Argentina on Saturday night.
The Eora-language revision led to calls for an Indigenous anthem to become a permanent fixture of international sporting events featuring Australian representative teams.
But current NRL star Latrell Mitchell, who has stayed silent during the anthem at State of Origin games in the past, led the charge against such a plan.
“When will people understand that changing it to language doesn’t change the meaning!” he wrote on Instagram.
Mitchell’s argument against the flawed lyrics – including “young and free” – received strong support from Mundine on Monday.
“For me, bro, how can I put it? It’s like kicking someone when they’re down,” Mundine told News Corp.
“The message of the anthem is wrong. It was putting salt into the wound for Aboriginal men.
“If they want to change things then actually change the words of the anthem. But you can’t just sing the same original text in Aboriginal language and think it’s going to fly with people.
“(The Wallabies’ rendition) got people talking but it still ain’t the right message. It looks good and sounded good when the Wallabies sang it and it looks like they’re giving back – but they’re not really giving back.
“The original anthem is racially driven from its inception and now they want to do it in Aboriginal language – two wrongs don’t make it right. The anthem is the theme song for the white Australian policy.”
Indigenous former NRL player Steve Renouf said he respected Mundine and Mitchell’s perspective but said the renditions are “a step in the right direction”.
“I think it was a good touch by the Wallabies and there are a lot of Indigenous people happy with that,” he said.
“Good on the ARU (rugby officials), they didn’t have to do it.”
The NRL has also engaged Indigenous singers to perform the anthem in their language in the past.