Whatever you think of Professor Marcia Langton – a one time activist hero to Aboriginal Australia – she occasionally has a way of ripping the rug from out under white people. Particularly politicians.
During the recent ABC TV Q&A broadcast from the Garma Festival in the Northern Territory, Langton was asked to address a question from an audience member about why politicians were so fearful of Aboriginal people seeking their own constitutionally protected voice in parliament, a reference to the Uluru Statement from the Heart released last month.
Over to Langton: “The recognition of our peoples brings into question their status as Australians. It’s shaking up the very foundations of what they believe Australia is.
“People who are opposed to the proposition (of Aboriginal people having a political voice written into the Constitution) believe Australia is a white country. They don’t want to admit how they obtained this country.
“It’s ironic isn’t it, that there are three or four people whose status as Australians have been called into question under Section 44 of the Constitution.
“Two or three Senators on the Green side have had to resign from parliament. Somebody else is in court over it. [Matt] Canavan has had to stand down… from cabinet and is waiting for clarification.
“There are others in the parliament whose Australian citizenship is in question because of dual citizenship issues, where they were born and so on. So it turns out quite a few members of our parliament aren’t in fact Australians under the Constitution.
“And you watch, they will put up an amendment to section 44 to clarify their status as Australians before they deal with ours.”
Since then, Barnaby Joyce is also in a bit of trouble. And politicians and lawmakers are already scrambling to work out what it all means, and how to fix it.
We all watch with interest.