26 January 2022

SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s failed photo op with Grace Tame, Australia Day debate, Australian of the year Dylan Alcott. 

NATALIE BARR, HOST: I'm joined by Northern Territory Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy. Senator, how did you feel about this exchange yesterday? 

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Well, it's been interesting watching all of it. Seriously, I just think the country needs to recognise that Grace Tame is an amazing woman. And of course, she was going to have a difficult moment with the Prime Minister. But hey, who hasn't? Let's remember the bushfires when the Prime Minister tries to shake hands with a bushfire victim. There have been awkward moments with this Prime Minister on many occasions, and I just say to Grace Tame, thank you for your service to the people of Australia and for bringing awareness on the issues that impact women in particular. 

BARR: Yeah, Malarndirri. I know she's an incredible woman. She she's opinionated. She has her own thoughts about so many very important issues. But if you go and talk to the prime minister of the country, do you protest like that because it sounded like that's what she was doing. Or should you show respect or not? 

MCCARTHY: It's a question really that should be put to Grace Tame. I think there should be an opportunity for her to speak about it, should she wish to do so. Clearly, we don't know what happened outside of that photograph. We know, however, that there is concern with regards to the Prime Minister's leadership on so many things. But I would not be so harsh on Grace Tame. I'd certainly be asking the Prime Minister to think more about what the message was that she had for all Australians, in particular him.

BARR: Onto something else controversial, leading Indigenous academic Marcia Langton says there are more pressing issues facing Aboriginal Australians, but eventually she and other indigenous leaders would like to see the date changed. Senator, it's a big one. We talk about this in the lead up to every Australia Day. What do you think? Should the date be changed?

MCCARTHY: I've spoken about this on many occasions over the years. I've always believed it's about a change of attitude, more than a change of date. I think the issues that we face in the country are so great that we need to focus on those. Look at what's happening to us now in regard to COVID up here in the Northern Territory. We are in a very dire situation, I should say, in terms of our communities and trying to survive and get through the COVID pandemic. It has hit us really hard as I'm sure it has millions of Australians around the country. But I want to just also add, when I think about this day on a very personal level, you know, my father's side of the family came from Ireland in 1842 on one of the fleets as a free man, he was certainly not a convict. He came with hope for the future here in an unknown land. On my mother's side as a Yanyuwa and Garrwa woman, I'm enormously proud of the fact that we fought hard for land rights. For me personally, it's about getting up early in the mornings, you know, and I ask Australians, wake early with the Sun, reflect on the atrocities of the early days of our country. And that still exists with the high incarceration rates and deaths in custody. But for now, our country needs to be united more than ever. Not divided.

BARR: It feels like we can't celebrate this day like a lot of people used to because it hurt so many people. It is labelled Invasion Day and it hurts so many people to the soul. So what are we going to do about it? Do we protest every year in lead up to Australia Day or do we change the date and make a lot of people happier. As an indigenous woman, what do you think? 

MCCARTHY: That's really important question. I would say to Australians watching, to First Nations people watching, one of the wonderful things about our country is that we are a democracy and we have the right to express our views. But let's do it in a really respectful way. What I do when I get up on Australia Day or Survival day or Invasion Day, whatever you want to call it, on January 26, I get up with the Sun. I might go to a fun run. I'll then go to the Australian citizenship ceremony. Then I might go to a Survivor Day march and then I'll go to the world refugee soccer match. Then I'll come home with my family. So I'd say to all Australians, whatever you do today, be respectful and keep in mind that we all belong to this country. 

BARR: Yeah, that's a really good point and acknowledge, you know, both sides of this. Finally, tennis champ Dylan Alcott has become the first Australian of the year recipient with a disability to be awarded the honour in 62 years. How great is this man? 

MCCARTHY: Isn’t Dylan awesome, I have been watching him with the Australian Open. But also, he's inspiring. I have a son who's also a wheelchair basketball athlete and I work with him and his teammates, and I know that Dylan inspires them and I'm just so proud to see him up there. So I just think, you know, good on you, Dylan, and beautiful speech last night. How good was that to acknowledge the health workers, the clinicians, everyone on the frontline, the firies, you know? Well done, Dylan. You deserve this and we look forward to seeing you up here in the Northern Territory.