One of Australia’s most respected Indigenous academics has fired back at the Nationals, accusing the party of injecting “misinformation and vitriol” into the Voice to parliament debate.
Marcia Langton, a leading member of the federal government’s Voice working group, said she was disappointed with claims politicians had not been presented with the details of the proposal, given she delivered it personally.
“I‘m really quite disappointed that people don’t believe that we haven’t spoken to them when we in fact did,” Professor Langton told ABC’s RN.
“And they believe that there‘s no detail when we’ve personally handed the report to them and discussed it with them.”
Professor Langton and fellow Indigenous academic Tom Calma co-wrote the report commissioned by the Morrison government on how the Voice would operate.
The final report was discussed for almost six months in cabinet before it was released to the public last December, Professor Calma told ABC’s RN.
The Nationals last week dashed the government’s hopes of bipartisan support for the Voice, announcing they would oppose the referendum.
NT senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price claimed the Voice would empower the “elites” at the expense of marginalised Indigenous Australians in remote communities.
Professor Langton said it was “unfortunate” the Nationals had pre-emptively come to a position and called out the Celtic Warlpiri senator for potentially kicking off a “nasty, eugenicist” debate.
“It’s unfortunate that the Nationals have injected misinformation and vitriol into the debate so early on,“ Professor Langton said.
“It would be terribly unfortunate for all Australians if the debate sinks into a nasty eugenicist, 19th-century style of debate about the superior race versus the inferior race, and I have to say I’m terribly disappointed that a Warlpiri or a Celtic-Warlpiri person has kicked this off.”
She added the Warlpiri leaders she had spoken to believed the Voice was a “very necessary part of the Australian political system”.
The referendum on the Voice is expected to be held in the next financial year.
Labor has not revealed whether it intends to adopt the model proposed in the Langton-Calma report.
But Professor Langton said she was confident the proposal would not undergo major changes.
“We put in over two years of work. We consulted thousands of people. There were two reports. and we took that to the people. Of course it went to cabinet as well, and to our surprise that it emerged from cabinet with no changes whatsoever,” she said.
“I‘m very confident that the Voice will look, in the end, if Australians vote for the Voice … will look much like our proposal, our detailed proposal.”
Story Credit: news.com.au