An Aboriginal academic has outlined a bleak future for First Nations people if Australians don’t vote for the Indigenous voice in parliament.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s proposal for a constitutional body to advise on Aboriginal affairs has been at the center of political debate, with the Liberal Party announcing last week that it would vote against the body.
During Monday night’s ABC Q&A debate, Indigenous theologian Anne Pattel-Gray, the head of the school of Indigenous studies at the University of Divinity, warned that a “no” majority in the upcoming referendum would “kill a nation of people.” .
After Scottish journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil shared his view on the Brexit referendum, program presenter Stan Grant brought Professor Pattel-Gray into the discussion.
Professor Pattel-Gray warned that the referendum, which all adult Australians will vote on later this year, “will determine the integrity of the country”.
“What Australia needs to be aware of is that this is not a political agenda, this is a moral and ethical agenda and this will define Australia’s integrity because each and every one has a role to play,” said Professor Pattel-Gray, applauding arouse.
“Whether they vote yes or no depends on the integrity issue of the individual.”
Professor Pattel-Gray then made an impassioned plea, referring to the Uluru statement of the heart as to why Australians should vote yes.
“Our people have bare their souls to you and made themselves vulnerable by reaching out to this nation and asking you to recognize us and give us a voice,” she continued.
“This country has criminalized our children, they are locked up heavily, we even lock up 10-year-olds.
What a disgrace to this country.
“And yet what you decide will determine our future.”
“We shared our pain with you, but we also shared our hope, and if that hope is not acknowledged, then you damn us to hell and go kill a nation of people.”
University of Divinity Head of the School of Indigenous Studies Anne Pattel-Gray (pictured) made an impassioned plea on Q&A
Prof Pattel-Gray referred to statistics showing that nearly half (49 per cent) of juvenile offenders in Australia are Indigenous, despite they only making up 5.8 per cent of the 10-17 age group.
Professor Pattel-Gray’s impassioned plea for the vote led to a startling admission from Federal and NSW Young Liberals Chair Dimitry Chugg-Palmer, who openly supports it but wants to see more details.
He added that “many” fellow Liberals will support the Voice, despite his party’s official opposition federal stance.
“I think it’s so important that we have a respectful debate on this topic and that we go through the very important details that we need to see,” Mr. Chugg-Palmer explained.
“We still haven’t seen any legislation on what exactly the Voice is going to be.
“Asking those questions and expressing those doubts is not a way of trying to frustrate or stop it, it’s about being honest and so that we know what we’re voting for when we walk into the polls.
“I want us to reconcile with First Australians.
“I think it’s right to give them a say in decisions that affect them, that’s a fundamental liberal principle.”
Anthony Albanese’s proposed Indigenous vote to parliament continues to divide Australia
It comes after Mr Albanese hinted that some of the biggest names in Australian sport could be part of the team campaigning for the Indigenous voice in parliament.
“I know from conversations with a number of NRL and AFL players, both past and present, that they will be active in voicing their views in support of constitutional recognition,” Albanian told Sky News on Sunday.
“They have all been strong supporters of Indigenous recognition for a long period of time.
“And I expect that not only they, but also Tennis Australia have supported us. Cricket Australia, all sporting codes.’
Athletics legend Cathy Freeman has long been a proponent of the yes vote, while AFL great Adam Goodes has worked behind the scenes to build support.