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Indigenous leader Warren Mundine clashes with ABC 7.30 host Sara Ferguson over Voice to Parliament


Indigenous leader Warren Mundine has clashed with an ABC star after being asked how Aboriginal people were marginalized.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gave a speech on the Voice to parliament on Monday night, saying: ‘A whole nation has been kept on the margins for so long’.

“Survival against all odds, survive even against misplaced good intentions,” he said.

Sarah Ferguson, presenter on the 7.30am ABC, quoted Mr Albanese as she discussed the Voice debate with Mr Mundine, but was quickly corrected after she referred to a ‘whole nation’.

“We consistently know from gap closing reports that those gap closing targets have not been met and there are only incremental improvements,” Ferguson asked.

“Do you accept the Prime Minister’s argument that the status quo is not acceptable to indigenous peoples?”

Mr Mundine then replied: ‘You said that a whole group of people, well, it’s not all Aboriginal people who are marginalized and not progressing.’

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine has clashed with an ABC star after being asked how Aboriginal people were marginalized

“I’m an example of that, Megan Davis (an Aboriginal activist) is another example of that.”

Ferguson then interrupted to discuss the gap closing initiative.

“The job of closing the gap is to show us what Indigenous people are achieving across the board,” she said.

And unfortunately, year after year, those reports show that the targets are not being met and that the gaps in education, health and certainly in indigenous incarceration – a national disgrace – are not being filled.

“So there’s a lot of unmet need.”

Mr Mundine replied: ‘Look – there’s a lot of material there, but it’s not about them being completely marginalised. It’s about results.’

Mr Mundine explained that many state and territory governments failed Aboriginal people because closing the gap focused on areas for which they were responsible.

And I think state and territory governments get away with a lot of this stuff because it’s not a federal issue. We found that they failed to actually get those Aboriginal children to school,” he said.

“So it was the state and territory governments that have had these shortcomings, not the Commonwealth government.”

Ferguson also explained to Mr Mundine why he described The Voice as a ‘threat’ to Aboriginal communities.

“I want to understand how it can threaten organizations and communities?” she said.

Mr Mundine, a man from the Bundjalung, is a leading advocate of the ‘no’ campaign and said he was concerned about the interference of a ‘third party’.

“I believe that the First Nations, the traditional owners, have a voice and we need to amplify those voices, rather than build another layer on top of them,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Mundine accused the ABC of bias in reporting the Voice debate after it appeared on the national broadcaster’s News Breakfast programme.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton had warned that The Voice would have ‘Orwellian’ consequences if ‘all Australians are equal, but some Australians are more equal than others’ – a direct reference to George Orwell’s 1945 satirical novel, Animal Farm.

Sarah Ferguson, presenter of the ABC at 7.30, grilled Mr Mundine about his take on the Voice to Parliament

ABC presenter Sarah Ferguson at 7.30 grilled Mr Mundine about his take on the Voice to Parliament

“I think Peter Dutton is on to something, this is turning into a very divisive, very hateful campaign,” Mundine said.

“I know you like to bully Peter Dutton, but he’s right, this is starting to be a disgraceful campaign and the campaign hasn’t even started yet.

“This referendum divides Australia and you see it in the polls, and you see it in the community.”

Mr Mundine also called NSW Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison is being resigned after emailing National MP Conaghan from his work account, labeling him “disgusting” and “racist” for opposing The Voice.

He then denounced the ABC for not calling out the attacks of “yes” supporters who had attacked their opponents with hurtful remarks.

“I just find it bizarre that these people who are supposed to be Yes supporters and Yes campaigners watching us were the people who divided this country,” he said.

ABC presenter Madeleine Morris clarified that Mr Mundine’s comments on the judge’s comments were his own opinion and not supported by the ABC.

“Of course you don’t support it. It’s my opinion,’ Mr Mundine said.

“I just think it’s funny, if that person came out and did it, and he wasn’t a person, I know where the ABC would be on this whole thing.

“It’s time you take a balanced view and actually address these people who perpetrate these racist attacks.”

Morris tried to change the subject as tensions flared on screen.

“I’ll leave it at that because we invited you and you’re a very prominent member of the No campaign,” she said.

“So I’ll just say, you know, we’re definitely going to be platforms for the No campaign and the Yes campaign and as ABC, we’re going to continue to do that.”

Morris added at the end of the segment, “Just to be clear, those are Warren Mundine’s opinions on that exchange that happened with a NSW judge.”

What is the Voice?

An elected body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals who would provide advice to the federal government.

Only Australians of Indigenous descent would be able to determine the representatives.

To come about, a referendum would be held and would require a majority vote in a majority of states.

Unlike the old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission – formally abolished in 2005 with bipartisan support – the Voice would be enshrined in the Constitution.

While parliament would determine the composition of the vote, it would not have the power to abolish it without taking the issue to another referendum.

The Voice would advise the cabinet and executive government on legislation, particularly bills affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The 2017 Uluru Declaration from the Heart – based on input from 250 Aboriginal leaders – called for the “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.”

The final report of the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process was presented to the government of former Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2021.

It was co-authored by Tom Calma, a human rights activist, and Marcia Langton, an academic.

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