Goanna Singer Shane Howard Returns Order Of Australia Medal Following Voice Referendum

18 October 2023 | 12:06 pm | Mary Varvaris

"At this point in history, I can’t be proud of my nation and feel honour bound to return my Order of Australia medal."

Shane Howard

Shane Howard (Credit: TOBRIEN)

Shane Howard, the singer of Aussie outfit Goanna, has returned his Order of Australia medal following the unsuccessful Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum on Saturday.

The writer behind one of the country’s most lauded rock songs, Solid Rock, has written a letter to Australia’s Governor General that details his “deep sadness” towards the result. While Howard “respects the democratic result,” he felt that “Australians had missed an important historical moment of destiny.”

In his letter to the Governor General, Howard wrote, “At this point in history, I can’t be proud of my nation and feel honour bound to return my Order of Australia medal.

“When I wrote the song, ‘Solid Rock, Sacred Ground’, 40 years ago, I wanted us to address the fundamental lie at the heart of our national story. I dreamt of a country respectful of our ancient history and honest about our modern history. I wanted to be proud of my country.”

He continued, “I am also deeply troubled by the way our First Peoples, our brothers and sisters, have been so belittled, with such pernicious vilification, in the interests of political power. It is neither generous nor decent of us as a nation.”

Howard called out the Voice to Parliament referendum campaign, which he said saw “the rise of intentional and well-resourced disinformation networks.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Howard’s great-grandfather was arrested at the Eureka Stockade, and the musician wrote, “I hold sacred the democratic principles and freedoms that those Diggers defended and died for. Those democratic principles are now under threat.

“I love my birth country deeply but until we loose (sic) our colonial shackles, engage in Treaty-making with our First Peoples, commit to truth-telling about our history and embrace a post-colonial Republic, I cannot be proud of my nation.”

In June, Goanna unveiled their first new song in 25 years, takayna, which was shared in support of the Tarkine rainforest in North West Tasmania, a site under threat from logging and mining.

Howard described takayna as “A hymn to the natural world, to takayna/Tarkine and the palawa peoples long custodianship of that country.”

2023 marks the 40th Anniversary of Goanna’s 1983 anthemic song, Let The Franklin Flow and the High Court Decision on 1 July 1983 that prevented the damming of the Franklin River.