It has come to my attention that certain groups of people have been using my voice, my songs as their anthems at rallies.
I only want to say the Australia I belong to and love is a tolerant Australia. A place that is open and giving. It is a place that embraces all sorts of different people, in fact it is made stronger by the diversity of its people. If you look at my family you can see we are a multicultural family. Australia needs to stand up for Love and Tolerance in these modern times.
None of these people represent me and I do not support them.
A group called Reclaim Australia held rallies on the weekend of 18-19 July ‘to protect the Australian way of life’. Melbourne's event was particularly violent, as the online Pedestrian Daily reported:
Hundreds of protesters from opposing groups—the anti-Islam, anti-immigration Reclaim Australia and United Patriots Front, and the anti-racism groups Coalition Against Racism and No Room For Racism—have clashed at a demonstration in Melbourne today, as police used pepper spray on protesters to disperse crowds.
Daniel Motta posted this video on YouTube from Melbourne. Its origin is unclear:
There was both support and criticism of Barnes on social media. The original Facebook update has hundreds of comments, which can be viewed at the link above. ‘Jimmy Barnes’ also trended on Twitter:
— No Body (@BBBubby77) July 21, 2015
Some users made references to Prime Minister Tony Abbott concerning his inaction over the attendance of one of his parliamentarians, George Christensen, at one of the rallies. Former Democrats Senator and Greens candidate Andrew Bartlett tweeted:
Once upon a time, the Liberals would expel a member speaking at a racist rally. Will Mr Abbott even criticise it? http://t.co/4bFRgv8kTl
— Andrew Bartlett (@AndrewBartlett) July 16, 2015
In keeping with many issues that touch on racism, the debate in response to Jimmy's disclaimer grew nasty at times, as sports journalist Richard Hinds suggested:
— Richard Hinds (@rdhinds) July 21, 2015
The Twitterverse seemed relatively mild compared with the Facebook ‘conversation’.
Rather than giving it more air, this one should suffice:
Piss off back to Scotland wee jimmy
— ReclaimAustralia.txt (@ReclaimAusTXT) July 22, 2015
It joins a long history in Australia of ‘go back where you came from’. Even swimming legend Dawn Fraser was the centre of a recent controversy over similar remarks aimed at tennis player Nick Kyrgios.