• Australia Day Parade Adelaide, 2019. (Craig Wasley)Source: Craig Wasley
The slogan, 'Always Was, Always Will Be' is being criticised for excluding non-Indigenous Australians, with some federal senators arguing that it's use by NITV is divisive.
Stephanie Corsetti

26 Mar 2021 - 2:13 PM  UPDATED 26 Mar 2021 - 2:13 PM

The term, 'Always Was, Always Will Be,' was the theme for last year's NAIDOC week and has long been a part of public rallies and gatherings but this week som federal senators in an Estimates hearing labeled the slogan, and its use on NITV, as 'divisive'.

Queensland LNP Senator Gerard Rennick, an Estimates committee member he had no issue with the channel NITV, but he believed the phrase was not inclusive of non-Inidgenous Australians and new arrivals.

"That is just not sending a very welcoming message to immigrants or people, non-Indigenous Australians, who were born here," he told the hearing. 

Senator Rennick suggested the slogan was backwards and that it was excluding all Australians from feeling like the land belongs to everyone.

But the reaction on social media was swift with First Nations users calling out the criticism from the politicians. 

In response, SBS Managing Director James Taylor told the committee it was a very important statement.

"The Indigenous Australians are the longest continuous culture on the planet and are the first custodians of this land on which we all live," he said.

He said it was appropriate for NITV to proudly use the slogan.

On Friday, SBS director of Indigenous content Tanya Denning-Orman agreed, describing the slogan as a relevant 'war-cry,' that reflects previous land rights movements.

"We're not taking that slogan away, it's here to stay while we've got that Indigenous channel," she said. 

"When you go to our events all over the country, what you hear our communities saying is this country 'Always was, Always will be Aboriginal land." 

Ms Denning-Orman told NITV News the slogan became a strong part of the channel five years ago during the 'Change the Date' debate in relation to January 26. 

"It's probably a good thing that this conversation continues to happen and you know we really need more Senators and people in parliament acknowledging and recognising this important piece of truth-telling," said Ms Denning-Orman. 

Speaking with NITV's The Point on Thursday, the federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said younger Australians were ready for truth-telling but he's encouraging everyone to talk respectfully, even with others who make hurtful comments. 

"What we need to do is just continue to just engage in the conversation, (but) to do it in a way that is respectful," he said. 

The Labor leader said First Nations people were a generous community and non-Indigenous Australians needed to match that spirit. 


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