Australia among 'most racist' countries

Last updated 00:00 20/10/2012

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What started as an apology to Tasmanian Aborigines ended with outspoken boxer Anthony Mundine labelling Australia one of the most racist countries in the world and calling for the flag and national anthem to be changed.

Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell described Mundine's apology in Sydney on Friday as shallow and said his original comments directed at Tasmanian-born Aboriginal boxer Daniel Geale on Thursday were racist.

But it is Australia that Mundine says is racist, starting with the flag and national anthem - which he believes represent the White Australia policy that was abolished in 1973.

"Everyone that comes here, and a lot of my close friends and family members, feel that Australia is one of the most racist countries in the world," Mundine said.

"I want to unite the people. I want to move forward as one, as all Australians.

"We've never had any representation on the flag, yet I see representation of the Union Jack.

"Something that symbolises the invasion, the murder, the pillaging.

"I think we need to address that. It's dividing Australia rather than uniting Australia.

"... With the flag now, I can't fly it. And I want to fly it for the Australian people."

During his apology, Mundine stopped short of saying he was sorry for causing offence to Geale, something the dual-world champion says was not unexpected.

"When I heard there was an apology coming I was probably more surprised at that," said Geale, adding his wife was insulted by Mundine's comments,

"When he didn't come through with the apology, I wasn't surprised at all. It just goes to show what sort of bloke the guy is," he told Fox Sports News.

"He made some statements today which I believe didn't really help. He just changed the topic."

The pair, who will fight in January for Geale's IBF middleweight title, were promoting the bout on Thursday when Mundine questioned the Tasmanian-born Geale's Aboriginal heritage in comments that drew widespread condemnation.

"I thought they wiped all the Aborigines from Tasmania out, that's all I know," Mundine said.

"I don't see (Geale) representing us black people or coloured people. I don't see him out in the community doing what I do with people.

"He's got a white woman, white kids."

Mundine also said on Friday he wanted a government-enforced cut-off point for Aboriginality, arguing for a scaling system where first-generation Aborigines receive more assistance than those with distant Aboriginal heritage.

Mansell believes that sort of attitude is archaic and says the apology wasn't sincere.

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"His comments (on Thursday) promoted the myth of the extinction of Aboriginal people and in doing so they promoted the idea that if there's intermarriage between Aborigines and white people the offspring are not really Aboriginal and so therefore genocide is complete," Mansell told ABC TV.

"In this day and age, that sort of notion is just rejected across the board in white Australia and in black Australia.

"His comments were hurtful to Aboriginal people, they were racist and they were grubby, and his comments about the colour of the skin of his opponent's wife and the child of his opponent were just unforgivable.

"When you listen to the words of his apology, it's a pretty shallow apology. I just don't think he's quite got it yet."

- AAP

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