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Australia Minister for Indigenous Australians says the national anthem MUST be played ahead of the NRL All Stars game despite Aboriginal players claiming it 'doesn't represent us'

22:02  11 december  2019
22:02  11 december  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Ken Wyatt wearing a suit and tie: Ken Wyatt said the national anthem must be played before the NRL's Indigenous All Stars game next season© Provided by Daily Mail Ken Wyatt said the national anthem must be played before the NRL's Indigenous All Stars game next season

Advance Australia Fair must be played before the NRL All Stars game next season despite some of the biggest names in the game refusing to sing the anthem, according to the minister for indigenous citizens.

The Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said removing the song from the pre-match buildup would create a divide in the community.

Rugby league stars including Blake Ferguson and Latrell Mitchell caused controversy when they refused to sing Advance Australia Fair during the 2019 season.

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The Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council will decide this week whether to put forward a proposal to drop the national anthem from the exhibition match which highlights the games indigenous players.

a man standing in front of a crowd: Indigenous players including Cody Walker caused controversy after they didn't sing the national anthem during representative appearances© Provided by Daily Mail Indigenous players including Cody Walker caused controversy after they didn't sing the national anthem during representative appearances

The Australian Rugby League Commission will have the final say but if it rules in favour of the proposal the controversial anthem could be scrapped from as early as next season's All-Star game.

Mr Wyatt, the first indigenous Australian to hold the ministry and first to sit in Cabinet, said he was against the move.

'I do not support calls not to play the Australian national anthem,' Mr Wyatt told The Australian.

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'Any such move would be divisive and would detract from the significance and importance of celebrating indigenous Australians’ place in the world of rugby league.'

The advisory group includes former Gold Coast star and All Stars founder Preston Campbell - who first launched the indigenous fixture a decade ago.

Indigenous players including Cody Walker and Mitchell didn't sing the national anthem before State of Origin matches this season, with Gold Coast Titans captain Ryan James saying the national anthem didn't hold as much significance and relevance to Indigenous Australians, as it did not 'connect to us as people'.

The report comes as the NRL battles against claims of discrimination from Roosters star Mitchell - who told the league's official website last week 'NSW (Blues) went real funny on us because we don't sing the anthem.'

NSW Rugby League demanded the comment be removed and Blue coach Brad Fittler told The Sydney Morning Herald the claims were 'completely false'.

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Latrell Mitchell standing on top of a grass covered field: Latrell Mitchell claimed the NSW Blues were funny on him after he refused to sing the national anthem© Provided by Daily Mail Latrell Mitchell claimed the NSW Blues were funny on him after he refused to sing the national anthem

Many indigenous players have spoken out on their refusal to sing the anthem saying the song does not acknowledge the country's Aboriginal history.

After refusing to sing during All Stars in February, Walker said Advance Australia Fair 'doesn't represent me and my family.'

'To be honest no (it shouldn't be played) – 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,' he said.

Indigenous actor Ernie Dingo said regardless of the council's decision, the fans at the NRL All Stars match are there to watch the football, not the national anthem.

'Once this country includes Aboriginal people in the Constitution I will sing the national anthem, until then I hope you don’t mind if I don’t,' he said.

'Anyway, the most important thing is the match. Those boys are going to go out there and do what they do best and that’s what people come to see, not the anthem.'

a group of people posing for the camera: Cody Walker said that Advance Australia Fair 'doesn't represent me and my family'© Provided by Daily Mail Cody Walker said that Advance Australia Fair 'doesn't represent me and my family' Read more

Fittler: National anthem 'definitely needs work' .
NSW coach admits Australia's national anthem "definitely needs work" and will continue to support Indigenous players who opt not to sing it.The national anthem has been a buzz topic during the 2019 NRL season and it could very well be scrapped from the annual All Stars match next February due to a push from an NRL indigenous advisory group.

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