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Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s views on Australia Day ‘selfish’ and ‘lightweight’, Michael Dodson says

Former Australian of the Year and Northern Territory Treaty Commissioner Michael Dodson has called Scott Morrison’s comments about Australia “selfish” and that the Prime Minister is “very lightweight when it comes to understanding Australian history”.

The Prime Minister on Thursday criticised Cricket Australia for its decision to recommend that teams drop the term “Australia Day” from its Big Bash promotions.

“Australia Day is all about acknowledging how far we’ve come,” Mr Morrison said during a Thursday press conference.

“When those 12 ships turned up in Sydney, all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either.

“What that day, to this, demonstrates is how far we’ve come as a country and I think that’s why it’s important to mark it in that way.”

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Scott Morrison defended the use of the term “Australia Day”.

However, Mr Dodson, who was named Australian of the Year in 2009 for his work as an advocate for reconciliation, slammed those comments as “shallow” and showing a lack of empathy.

“I’m astounded at the comment [from the Prime Minister],” Mr Dodson said.

“It indicates to me a very shallow understanding of the arrival of the first fleet and the impact of that on Aboriginal Australia.

“It’s a very selfish comment. He said nothing about the arrival of that fleet on the Aboriginal owners who own the place.

“There’s no empathy there at all. He’s turning it inward. It’s all about self-praise and aggrandisement of white fella colonisation.

“It’s so shallow in that it doesn’t involve inclusion or diversity.

Dodson praises Cricket Australia’s approach

Perth Scorchers are one of three teams that will wear an Indigenous jersey.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Mr Morrison took further aim at Cricket Australia later on Thursday, telling the body, “I think a bit more focus on cricket, and a bit less focus on politics,” on radio station 4RO.

However, Mr Dodson said he “wholeheartedly” agreed with Cricket Australia’s stance, praising the body for the work it had done in growing the game.

“They’ve taken Aboriginal participation in official cricket around the country from 8,500 [in 2013/14] to almost 70,000,” Mr Dodson said.

“It’s not just Indigenous Australians, it’s people from diverse and different cultural backgrounds, they’ve done a terrific job.

“Adam Cassidy [Cricket Australia’s diversity and inclusion manager] and the Cricket Australia team should be very, very proud of what they’ve achieved in such a short time.”

“Because they’re inclusive and have an inclusive and diverse policy, you get figures like that.”

Melbourne Stars, Renegades to stick with ‘Australia Day’

Neither of Melbourne’s two BBL franchises will drop the term “Australia Day” from their promotional material.(AAP: James Ross)

Although Cricket Australia has recommended that clubs not use the phrase “Australia Day”, the two Melbourne franchises, the Stars and the Renegades have said they will continue to use the term.

Nick Cummins, the Melbourne Stars general manager, told the Sydney Morning Herald that both games scheduled at the MCG on January 26 would be marketed as Australia Day matches.

Mr Cummins said the Stars did not have anything “overtly jingoistic planned” for the event, but had told Cricket Australia that it was not planning on changing their plans this year.

“We need to do it in a timely and constructive manner rather than making an arbitrary decision at very short notice,” Mr Cummins said.

“We believe that this is a significant step and requires the full engagement of all of Victorian cricket.”

The Melbourne Renegades are one of three BBL teams, along with Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers, that will be wearing Indigenous-themed jerseys in matches on January 23, 25 and 26.

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