Pauline Hanson
Pauline Hanson

Hanson’s whinge at flight announcement

CONSERVATIVE politician Pauline Hanson has unleashed on commercial airlines that perform Welcome to Country mid-flight, as the debate over Indigenous recognition in the Constitution heats up.

The One Nation Party leader appeared on 2GB Radio in Sydney this morning to share her views on the push for a referendum to formally recognise Australia's first peoples in the preamble to the Constitution.

Senator Hanson is not in favour of the proposition, which was put back on the agenda by Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt on Wednesday.

In the 48 hours since, divisions have emerged in the Coalition, with a number of right-wing figures expressing their concerns.

On the long-running issue of constitutional recognition, Senator Hanson said she has long been "warning people … do not fall for it".

"They are actually causing divisions," she told 2GB.

"We are all Australians together. I don't care if you are Indigenous or if you were born here or if you are actually a migrant, we are not 200 years in the past, we are now in the future. We are in the future generation."

But it was her claim about encountering Welcome to Country speeches on two commercial airliners mid-flight that has raised eyebrows.

"I actually flew into Rockhampton today and into Townsville and prior to my landing they actually put across that we must acknowledge the Aboriginals as the traditional land owners of this land and it is basically Welcome to Country," Senator Hanson said.

"I was gobsmacked, absolutely gobsmacked."

Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country are two different things. The first acknowledges the traditional owners of lands, while a Welcome to Country is performed by an Indigenous Australian as a greeting to visitors to lands.

It's unclear which Senator Hanson encountered.

Senator Hanson did not mention the airline by name and her office did not respond to requests for comment from news.com.au.

But Australia's major airlines say they don't typically acknowledge country or perform a Welcome to Country while in the air.

Spokespeople for the major airlines said procedures surrounding mid-flight duties were fairly rigid.

Pauline Hanson was on a commercial airline — not her own plane — when she claims a Welcome to Country was performed mid-air.
Pauline Hanson was on a commercial airline — not her own plane — when she claims a Welcome to Country was performed mid-air.

Senator Hanson is likely to be a major figure in the No campaign camp should the constitutional recognition referendum take place.

Mr Wyatt said it was his hope a referendum could be held in this term of government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated his support.

Mr Morrison has also met with Labor leader Anthony Albanese to discuss a bipartisan approach to the issue.

But already, a number of Liberal politicians have spoken out, with Sydney MP Craig Kelly saying he would campaign against recognition.

Queensland Senator Amanda Stoker and her Victorian counterpart James Patterson have also expressed their doubts.

A furore over a so-called third chamber in parliament - stemming from the 2017 Uluru Statement, which called for an Indigenous voice in Canberra - has forced Mr Morrison to pledge that no such proposal would be included in the referendum.

Instead, the focus would be on inserting language acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original inhabitants of Australia, although the proposed wording hasn't been finalised.

The right-wing think tank the Institute for Public Affairs said any Indigenous voice to parliament was "a divisive ideology based on race" and that "race has no place in the Australian Constitution".

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Mr Wyatt conceded the steps towards a referendum would not be easily tread.

But he invited all Australians to "walk with me".

Pauline Hanson has attacked airlines for performing Welcome to Country mid-air — something major brands say doesn’t happen. Picture: AAP
Pauline Hanson has attacked airlines for performing Welcome to Country mid-air — something major brands say doesn’t happen. Picture: AAP