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No sporting chance offered to First Nations peoples — at Hawthorn and around the country

In Your Say readers tell Crikey what they think about our stories. Today racism suffered by your Indigenous brothers and sisters stirred both fury and sadness.

On shattering the silencing of First Nations peoples

Alison Bussell writes: As an old, white Australian this last week of constant sentimental coverage of the queen’s death and funeral has sickened and angered me. It’s obvious why an Indigenous Australian would feel deeply hurt by the attention given to a family that was responsible for the massacres on settlement, the stolen land and children being stolen from parents. What did HRH ever do to ease the pain of our First Nations peoples? Did she return land, provide education or apologise? I am of Irish descent and stand with my Indigenous brothers and sisters in wanting to distance ourselves from the racist English financial parasites that call themselves royal. Let’s be a republic and live in a fair and equitable society together.

Gary Gibbon writes: Christopher Warren in his article surely can’t be including the ABC in his accusations. There has been wall-to-wall commentary from various Indigenous spokespersons across the whole range of the national broadcaster’s platforms during the over-extended coverage of the queen’s death and extremely drawn-out funeral. You couldn’t watch The Drum, Q+A, Insiders, listen to major radio programs and read online articles without encountering one representative — if not more — offering perspectives on the topics Warren raises.

But may I thank Adam Schwab for being the first I’d read to alert readers to the most troubling aspect of the Hawthorn Football Club racism affair. The internal review should never have been leaked to the media before the allegations were thoroughly investigated and due processes of natural justice and fairness were tendered to all parties. Putting aside the very serious nature of the allegations raised, it’s been very disturbing to witness the brutal trial by media that coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan have had to endure … So much for innocent until proven guilty in the 24/7 news cycle.

Di Brown writes: I’m white, old and enraged. I feel powerless and helpless in the face of the overwhelming forelock-tugging, ridiculous obsequiousness of the past fortnight so can’t imagine how enraging it must be for our First Nations brothers and sisters. I was delighted to see the protests and anger expressed aloud. Unfortunately I think that might be the only way to wake us all up to the injustices of the past and present. It’s made me a more committed advocate of the Voice and I wish there was more I could do. Please keep the flame alive and keep publishing these stories — they must become embedded in our national psyche.

On the Black mark against Hawthorn

Pamela Curr writes: Amid the shock of how did this allegedly happen, who knew, who kept quiet is it not time to admit that within our sporty, irreverent Australia-hugging-its-mythical-self-identity is a shameful secret much broader than one club? Namely our treatment of certain groups — the Untermensch among us: the Indigenous peoples; the Aboriginal kids; the people who came by boat; the indefinitely detained refugees; the kids with disability hidden away in aged care homes.

The questions are not just for the inner sanctum of the Hawthorn Football Club, the how and the why these players and their families were so cruelly treated is a question for every Australian. And the media must push us all to dig deep for answers. The families broken by football club rules are also broken by immigration policy separating parents and children, husbands and wives, by laws allowing the imprisonment of kids as young as 10.

John Attwood writes: Is it not time that we stopped calling AFL, NRL, AFLW, netball and basketball “sports”? They are nothing like a sport; they are merely ways to extract cash from followers to pay insane salaries. The whatever-it-takes-to-win mentality is detrimental to all involved. It means that a coach is defined by winning (and sacked for not meeting expectations), a player is defined by statistical parameters such as marks or disposals and demoted to lower grades for not meeting the expected levels, and any (all) administrators take a pay rise regardless of performance — just like in the corporate world. 

Gone are the days when a league hopeful would work as garbo (because that was a daily workout following the truck and lifting the bins) during the week and play his heart out (and they were always men back then) at the weekend, knowing that the team would appreciate him and the fans would cheer his efforts. Now the only appreciation is in the pay cheque.

On the Republican Party’s Jim Crow 2022 stunt

Bill Robinson writes: It would seem there is no longer, if there ever has been, a truly conservative political party in the Anglosphere. The whole bunch of them — US Republicans, British Tories and Australian “Liberals” — are just repositories of race, class and privilege hatreds. They stop at nothing to subvert the principles of democracy in their own interests. Unfortunately they, as always, have the ear of the disaffected, uneducated, unthinkingly religious and hidebound who, like the Bourbons, forget nothing and learn nothing. Hopefully a better education system will help to ameliorate that. Unfortunately the US seems incapable of moving past the inherently racist and anti-democratic constitution, the product of slave-owners.

David Short writes: The nature of the political arena has been twisted by every turn: Britain with Boris Johnson lying; Donald Trump with his deranged narcissism; Scott Morrison thinking he had God with him at every turn; Vladimir Putin trying to turn back time. There is a common thread, with Putin and Trump as an example. It’s that they are trapped in their own minds. Believing that if you say it often enough, those around you will believe. Democracy is fragile and must be upgraded at every turn or it can and will fail. The American system is in that phase now, being manipulated from the bottom up. Don’t let democracy be stolen from you.

On Amy Brown, scapegoat or yes woman

Wendy Rae writes: It is bleedingly obvious that she has been hung out to dry. And it’s not only disgusting — it’s a purely political move. John Barilaro made it clear to his chief of staff before he resigned that he planned to be working in New York in the very near future. I used to believe that these roles were meant to be apolitical. The men involved should be ashamed of themselves.   

Nancy Knudsen writes: There’s no question: either Stuart Ayres and Amy Brown are both guilty or they are both innocent. This is an appalling turn of events. We can appreciate different points of view across the spectrum, but corruption and misogyny have no place in our world and must be called out every time. I, like many others no doubt, will next vote for anyone but this party.

Martin Munz writes: Truly appalling that throughout this disgraceful saga it’s women who are penalised. Jobs for the boys; the sack for the women.

Wies Schuiringa writes: Amy Brown was in a no-win situation. There were the changes and the opaqueness in the appointment process — if it was a public service or ministerial appointment. A public servant who needed to remain on good terms with her boss as otherwise her position would be very difficult. A hornets’ nest. These appointment processes need to be independent. There is such an entrenched subculture of nepotism by and for politicians, I can’t see a way out. Senior public servants need to know, and probably know, that they are pawns in this game and will be sacrificed when need be.

If something in Crikey has pleased, annoyed or inspired you, let us know by writing to Please include your full name to be considered for publication. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.

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