Prominent Aboriginal activists are lining up to take swing at the National Party over its announcement yesterday it would oppose moves to enshrine Aboriginal political representation in the Australian Constitution before details of the referendum have even been released.
Geoff Scott, a former head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, and a nationally respected figure representing Uluru Dialogues, released a withering written statement overnight.
“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people, not politicians or any one political party,” Mr Scott said. “[The] announcement by the Nationals will only make us work harder to ensure all Australians understand the importance of voting ‘Yes’ on the question of a Voice to Parliament at a referendum.”
Mr Scott said by pre-empting any detail of the Voice, the Nationals exposed itself as putting “internal politics ahead of the interests of First Nations Peoples”.
“Australians know that politicians can’t close the gap. And that’s why the Voice is so important. It will make practical improvements to the lives of First Nations Australians across the country, including in Nationals electorates. We know that because it is what First Nations have asked for.
“The Voice to Parliament offers a solution, the Nationals have offered more of the same. Given their record of failure in Government to close the gap, we will not be lectured by the Nationals on the best ways to improve outcomes for First Nations people.”
Widjabul Wiabal woman and GetUp CEO, Larissa Baldwin-Roberts was also scathing of the Nationals’ announcement.
“David Littleproud’s announcement is incredibly alarming,” Ms Baldwin-Roberts said. “It is racist, it entirely discounts what is at stake here and has no place in our Parliament.
“We have an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and to begin to break down systemic racism that fans ignorant, prejudiced views such as the National Party’s.
“We recognise that this is not the view of the people who voted in the federal election – the referendum provides us all with an opportunity to vote with us, and not with these politicians or parties.
“It is time to address the growing inequality in this country that First Nations people and communities face and to have deep conversations about what our democracy looks like. Our vision for a fair and flourishing Australia has truth-telling, treaty and self-determination as its foundation.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to address the barriers that create inequality, to protect our cultural heritage, our water, our children and our land. This ‘No campaign’ will derail and irreparably damage the fights for treaty, land rights and truth telling in this country – and Littleproud knows this.
“David Littleproud, Pauline Hanson and The Nationals are on the wrong side of history. GetUp speaks for over a million members who are prepared to right the wrongs of our past – to stand with us and do the work that politicians are not brave enough to do. This is what will set the course for equality and justice and create a better future for us all.”
Geoff Scott added polling showed First Nations people and non-Aboriginal Australians were all strongly in favour of a ‘Voice to Parliament’.
“80 per cent of Australians believe the creation of a national representative Indigenous body is important and should be protected under the constitution according to the 2022 Australian Reconciliation Barometer released last week,” he said.
“Support from First Nations people sits at 86 per cent.
“Today makes clear that the task for the Government is to put a strong ‘Voice to Parliament’ to the Australian people, so we can continue our conversation directly with them and not more politicians in Canberra.”
You can find out more information on The Uluṟu Statement from the Heart, by visiting https://ulurustatement.org/
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