“Change Doesn’t Come From Being Comfortable”: Briggs Tells Q&A Why The Australian Anthem Is “Just Not That Good”

Last week, Indigenous rapper Briggs was in a video for The Weekly in which he broke down Australia’s national anthem, saying not only that “the song sucks”, but also talking about how the anthem contributes to the displacement and disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians.

The video was prompted by news of a group of Indigenous rugby league players who chose not to sing the anthem at last week’s State of Origin match.

Now, Briggs has appeared on this Monday night’s Q&A on the ABC where he was asked about the video.

“So I don’t think a lot of people are that attached to the actual anthem. It’s only 35 years old. I don’t think anyone is really that attached to it because the song’s just not that good,” he said on Q&A.

He used his time on the panel to talk about the video and the points he made in it, elaborating on his dissection of the anthem and its inconsistencies of depicting the lived experiences of Indigenous Australians.

When asked which lyrics in particular he took issue with, Briggs pointed to “the idea that Australia is young and free … when Indigenous people are some of the most incarcerated people on the face of the earth.”

The conversation was largely a discussion of the clip and his thoughts of it, until it took a turn when an audience member stood up and compared her own experiences to Briggs’. She said that her “Celtic ancestors were dispossessed by the same people who dispossessed Indigenous Australians,” and asked why can’t we all just put the past in the past and respect the current flag and anthem.

“To compare Indigenous disadvantage to any other kind of disadvantage in Australia is vastly… it’s crazy to me,” Briggs said. “Up until the 80s, my parents got turned away from home ownership. They had the deposit, but as soon as the person selling the house found out that they were Indigenous, that house was no longer for sale. And that was the 80s. The disadvantage that we face is still today.”

The rapper goes on to explain, “It’s about acknowledgment for Indigenous people,” he said. “And our place in Australia as the first people of Australia, being here for 60,000-plus years.”

Briggs’ latest single ‘Life Is Incredible’ is a darkly comedic look at the discrepancy in the life expectancy of white Australians versus First Nations people.

“I think a lot of people get their back up as soon as they hear the term white privilege. Especially working class Australians – they feel like, ‘Hang on, I go to work every day. I work as hard as the next man. If Indigenous Australians wanted to be on our level, they have to work as hard as me’,” Briggs told Music Feeds last month in chatting about the new single. “When the reality is we have to work ten times as hard to access the same kind of benefits of the rest of Australia.”

“How are we supposed to close the gap if we don’t acknowledge where the gap is and what the gap is and that there is a divide? You don’t repair foundations by ignoring them. You restump the house if it needs restumping.”

Watch the full Q&A episode here and select clips below.

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