Goanna frontman hands back medal in dismay over vote

Goanna frontman Shane Howard says the nation missed an opportunity with the failed referendum.

Goanna frontman Shane Howard says the nation missed an opportunity with the failed referendum. Photo: AAP

The man who wrote the Australian rock classic Solid Rock has returned his Order of Australia medal in dismay about last weekend’s referendum on a First Nations voice.

Goanna frontman Shane Howard wrote the song, which speaks about dispossession of First Peoples, in the early 1980s.

On Wednesday, Howard sent his medal back to Governor-General David Hurley, along with a letter, saying at this point in history he can’t be proud of the nation, which had missed an opportunity with the failed referendum.

“At its heart this is an Aboriginal country,” he wrote.

“First Nations people watched Ice Ages come and go.

“Ancient songlines re-enact the deep history of the oldest continuous culture and spirituality on earth.”

Howard said when he wrote Solid Rock 40 years ago he wanted to address the fundamental lie at the heart of Australia’s national story.

“I dreamt of a country respectful of our ancient history and honest about our modern history,” he said.

“Colonisation was brutal for Aboriginal people and the hurt is deep.

“The prosperity and privilege we enjoy in this country comes on the back of immeasurable suffering, unconscionable theft and abuse of First Peoples.”

Howard said the referendum campaign had seen the use of deliberate and well-resourced disinformation networks.

“I’m also deeply troubled by the way our First Peoples, our brothers and sisters, our friends, have been so belittled, with such pernicious vilification, in the interests of political power, it’s neither generous nor decent,” he said.

“I love my birth country deeply but until we loose ourselves from our colonial shackles, engage in meaningful truth-telling and reality-making with our First Peoples and begin the journey to a post-colonial republic, I cannot be proud of my nation.”

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