An “acknowledgement of country” displayed before the Sydney concert of Beatles icon Paul McCartney has sparked debate online.
Conservative commentator Kobie Thatcher shared a photo of the message displayed on the two large screens on either side of the stage ahead of the 81-year-old singer-songwriter’s second Sydney show at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
“You can’t even go to a concert now without an ‘acknowledgement of country’,” she wrote on X, with a rolling eyes emoji.
The message read, “We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation and all family groups connected to this Country, as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather and perform today. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.”
The post has been viewed more than 134,000 times.
“So you were one of those ‘if you don’t know, vote no’ people. And now you don’t know what you voted no to,” one person replied.
Ms Thatcher, who has nearly 22,000 followers on X, was also a vocal supporter of the No campaign during the Voice to Parliament referendum.
“No, I knew. That’s why I voted No,” she wrote.
One person commented, “I thought this ‘welcome to country’ crap was gonna be finished after we ALL voted No!”
Social media users shared other recent experiences.
One man said, “I was at the Knights semi-final a month ago. They didn’t do welcome to country as well as the national anthem, they did welcome to country INSTEAD of the anthem. Then a minute’s silence for an Aboriginal man I’d never heard of who had just passed away of old age.”
One person said they went to the circus and there was an acknowledgment of country, while another said they “called an ambulance yesterday for my nine-year-old and they asked over the phone if he’s Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander”.
One man joked, “I’d like to acknowledge that we wouldn’t be here without the construction team, the sound engineers, the roadies, the administrators, the technicians who worked tirelessly to ensure everything would go off without a hitch …”
But Ms Thatcher’s post also sparked heated backlash.
“You and other racists could move to Texas, if that would be better for you,” one man said.
“You conservatives are always getting triggered so easily huh,” another person wrote.
A third said, “All the No voters just openly hostile to Indigenous people now. Such bravery in your racism. Like it wasn’t obvious why you voted No.”
Another argued that “if you’re in central Sydney then you’re on Gadigal land”. “Always was, always will be,” they said. “If Paul (a Brit), gets it then surely a local can. It’s not that hard.”
TikToker Belinduh Pyne, aka Belinda Davey, said the message was “really not a big deal”.
“When I saw Paul McCartney, I saw the exact same thing and thought to myself, ‘how long till I see someone complaining about this on Twitter’,” she wrote.
“In the end the love you take, is equal to the love you make — The Beatles.”
She later added, “Imagine going to a concert of a Beatle who sings about peace and love, and then complaining because welcome to the country is on a screen … Paul McCartney is a vegetarian, believes in climate change and also wrote a song dissing Donald Trump. So I don’t know why you’re there to begin with.”
McCartney has played a series of epic shows on the Australian leg of his blockbuster Got Back Tour, delighting fans in Adelaide, Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney.
Tens of thousands of fans turned out for his Friday and Saturday shows at the massive Allianz Stadium in Moore Park to hear decades of the legendary rocker’s hits, personal favourites and fan favourites whittled down into one three-hour set list.
McCartney is joined on stage by his longtime touring band — guitarist Rusty Anderson, bassist/guitarist Brian Ray, pianist Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens, and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.
He is even joined onstage, via one of the screens behind him, by his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon to kick off the encore with a moving virtual duet of The Beatles hit I’ve Got A Feeling.
McCartney opened up about the poignant moment in an interview ahead of the Australian leg of his tour, calling it one of his favourite parts of the show.
“It’s kind of magic for me, because at one point I’m just backing John up,” he said.
“And that’s beautiful because that’s like it was when you played live, you know, to be conscious of the other person, and do your part right alongside him. So yeah, it’s very emotional for me. I love it.”
He will finish up in Queensland with one concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Wednesday, November 1 and his curtain call at Heritage Bank Stadium on the Gold Coast on Saturday, November 4.