Huge clash breaks out during Q&A on The Voice to Parliament: “Corrupted”
Two opposing Voice to Parliament supporters have argued over the upcoming referendum and its comparisons to a now-defunct Indigenous advisory body.
The row over the ABC’s Q+A program began when the chief executive of activist group GetUp, Larissa Baldwin-Roberts, took issue with Senator Paul Scarr’s comparisons between The Voice and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission ( ATSIC) abolished.
Created by the Hawke government, ATSIC was abolished in 2004 by the then Prime Minister John Howard, who declared that “the experiment in elected representation of Aboriginal people has been a failure” due to a a number of controversies.
Senator Paul Scarr clashed with Larissa Baldwin-Roberts on ATSIC and The Voice. Photo: ABC
“Why would a government remove it? » declared the National Liberal Party senator despite interjections from Ms. Baldwin-Roberts and the show’s host Patricia Karvelas.
“Because he was corrupt,” he continued.
Ms Baldwin-Roberts attempted to intervene, but Senator Scarr went on to say that “ATSIC was abolished on a partisan basis, on the grounds that it was not working.”
The activist retorted that the senator’s claims about ATSIC were “bullshit,” which sparked his anger.
“You can talk about misinformation, but you have to be careful about coming back and accusing other people of talking nonsense,” he said, as Ms Baldwin-Roberts continued to try to interrupt him.
“So if we want to have a respectful debate about this, as (moderator Patricia Karvelas) said, ATSIC was abolished because it was corrupt, ineffective and didn’t represent Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.”
The activist immediately responded by saying that was “the story you’re telling.”
“One of the things you hear overwhelmingly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is that the last representative body that we felt like we had a chance to talk to each other and to the government was ATSIC,” she said.
“There were some very good times about ATSIC and the stories told about it do not accurately reflect what happened.”
The activist questioned the narratives around ATSIC. Photo: ABC
She then accused the senator of being an “alarmist” before the host jumped in with a question of his own for Mr Scarr.
“When there are corrupt MPs, why don’t you call for the abolition of Parliament?” asked Ms. Karvelas, drawing laughter and applause from the live audience.
Senator Scarr did not have time to answer the question before actress and activist Madeleine West did.
“The debate we are having around this table, even though we are all here to want to disseminate facts, is reminiscent of what is turning people away from this issue,” she said.
“…there is so much discussion, there is so much backbiting because it is an issue that should unite us and yet it divides us.
“And I feel like the Australian public wants to do the right thing, they want to make sure people are heard.” But in the same way, when we are confronted, when we are confused, when we do not understand, we will revert to conservatism.