The controversial protest group known as ‘Reclaim Australia’ has been left red-faced after iconic Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes admonished the group for using his tunes at their recent events. According to witnesses, Cold Chisel’s seventies anthem, ‘Khe Sanh’, was played over loudspeakers at one of the events. But the singer has been quick to distance his musical legacy from the movement, which has been accused of espousing xenophobic and anti-multicultural sentiments.
In a post to Facebook, the beloved Australian singer and songwriter took the group to task for misappropriating his music. “It has come to my attention that certain groups of people have been using my voice, my songs as their anthems at rallies,” Mr. Barnes wrote. “None of these people represent me and I do not support them.”
Continuing on, Mr. Barnes affirmed his own political stance against the ‘Reclaim’ rallies. “I only want to say the Australia I belong to and love is a tolerant Australia. A place that is open and giving,” he explained. “It is a place that embraces all sorts of different people, in fact it is made stronger by the diversity of its people.”
The Scottish-born singer emigrated to Australia as a child, but it took several chart topping hits in order for ‘Barnesy’ to become a household name. Mr. Barnes’ wife, Jane, was born in Thailand and four of his children share in the family’s unique heritage. As such, Mr. Barnes represents all that is good about life in Australia; his rags-to-riches tale continues to inspire countless generations of home-grown artists with world-weary sensibilities. With all this in mind, his music and life story is not a natural fit for the ‘Reclaim’ crowd…
In response, organisers of the ‘Reclaim Australia’ rallies claimed that Mr. Barnes had erred in his judgement against the organisation. “We are & will continue to support you privately as you are an Aussie Icon, however if it’s your wish, we will no longer play your songs at our Rallies,” a Facebook post read. “Mr Barnes, you have mistakenly believed incorrect new reports that Reclaim Australia is a racist group … this is not true. Inevitably at our rallies we unfortunately have some fanatics & we have tried our best to have them removed.”
For many, these arguments are not salient. With overt nationalist sentiments and some truly worrying rhetoric, the ‘Reclaim’ rallies have proved to be a divisive and explosive social phenomena. But hopefully the wise words from a much-lived Aussie icon will help change their minds about the purpose and fairness of their efforts.
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