Doblo and Marou face-off after racism clash on social media
WHEN prominent local businessman Dominic Doblo unleashed a tirade onto social media in late April against the NRL's Indigenous All Stars "disrespecting" Australia's national anthem, it lit a long fuse which blew up in his face over the weekend.
The world has changed fundamentally since George Floyd's brutal death in the US at the hands of police officers, leading to rioting and protests around the world, making it clear that racial intolerance is unacceptable.
Making up half of Rockhampton's celebrity rock duo Busby Marou, Jeremy Marou spent 30 years growing up next door to the Doblos, thinking highly of Mr Doblo.
He said he was hurt by Doblo's comments.
"When you see nasty comments like that (on the internet), it's shocking, but then to see one from someone I looked up to and respected for a long time, it hurt me a lot," Mr Marou said.
"I saw it a few weeks ago and I really, really thought about it, and I had the post saved and then Dominic removed it.
"With all the negativity that's going on in the world at the moment, I thought it isn't good enough, and as hard as it is, taxing on all parties, I just thought I need to call him out on this one."
Given Mr Doblo's standing as a community and business leader, Mr Marou believed he needed to be held accountable for his comments.
Mr Marous's social media post went viral, attracting hundreds of comments with anger spilling over with personal attacks against Mr Doblo and his family, and threats to boycott his business.
It prompted Mr Marou to pull down his post saying "while there is no place for racism I noticed that many of the resulting comments were creating division in our community".
"We can never move forward without first coming together to understand and acknowledge what racism means to Indigenous Australians.
Mr Doblo responded to Mr Marou saying his "post has been taken out of context" and he took it down "after seeing how it was being used to incite racial tension".
He acknowledged the closeness of their families before saying, "I am not racist. If I have upset you personally, please forgive me".
On Monday afternoon, Mr Doblo called Mr Marou and organised to meet for a coffee to offer an apology and settle their differences in an amicable and civilised manner.
Mr Marous said Mr Doblo's opinion on Australia's anthem was "naive" given he was unfamiliar with the lyrics for Australia's national anthem, and once it was explained to him why Indigenous Australians found it offensive and were unwilling to support it, Mr Doblo was turned around in his opinion.
"Maybe the words have to be changed, sooner rather than later so everyone has respect and stands up for our anthem," he said.
Remorseful for the divisions created in the community, Mr Doblo said he intended to shut down his Facebook page for a couple of weeks and work with Mr Marou on a positive plan for the city's youth.
Mr Marou pleaded with the community to heal the divisions, stop the abuse and call off the business boycott which was the "wrong approach".
"Let's make it a positive. Two blokes have a fight in the morning over a racist issue and work it out over a coffee in the afternoon. That's the way it should happen. That's reconciliation," he said.