One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has branded Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s ‘voice of indigenous people’ proposal as ‘Australia’s version of apartheid’.
Speaking to a nearly empty Senate chamber on Wednesday, Ms Hanson delivered her most strident attack yet on what she called a “racist” referendum proposal, while praising Senator Jacinta Price, the only Indigenous lawmaker to oppose the advisory panel.
The five-minute speech came a week after she dramatically stormed out of the Senate during the routine morning “recognition of the country.”
“Creating a voice for Parliament will not be a moment of unification, as the Prime Minister would like us to believe,” Ms Hanson said.
“I have already been contacted by elders in traditional countries who say they do not support the voice and had no say in the Uluru declaration. This will be no different from the stolen generations apology. Let me remind you of the reason for this apology. We were told that as a united nation we must move forward together. How did that work out?”
Ms Hanson accused the Prime Minister of “despising these dissenting voices, including Aboriginal voices”.
“His disdain for those who are right to demand details of the proposed vote, such as its powers, functions and costs, was also very clear,” she said.
“He doesn’t promote unity at all. The prime minister is deliberately fomenting division and fueling it along racial lines. As Senator Price noted in her landmark first speech in this Chamber: “Many Indigenous Australians have not been consulted about the Voice and many have no idea what it is about.” This comment is from an Aboriginal woman. The PM has dismissed her comments, saying: “They don’t stack up.” no His comments don’t stack. That’s because the Prime Minister only listens to the Aboriginal industry, whose gravy train rests on racially segregating Australians and enshrining Aboriginal disadvantage. I’ve been saying that for decades.”
The leader of One Nation said there was nothing in the proposal that addressed “real disadvantages”.
“There is nothing in this proposal that will end the violence, poverty and service failure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” she said.
“Nothing in this proposal indicates how much this entire exercise will cost Australian taxpayers. However, I must state that the annual funding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in its last few years has been well over a billion dollars. It is almost certain that a referendum alone will cost over $120 million.”
Stream more politics with Flash. Over 25 news channels in one place. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer ends October 31, 2022 >
“Australia’s version of apartheid”
She said a better solution would be to hold the referendum at the next election, saying that “much about this proposal is open, ill-defined and fraught with danger”.
“The risk is very real that the sovereignty that all Australians have over their country and country is handed over to a racial minority,” she said.
She asked why the vote had to be included in the constitution.
“What’s the real ulterior motive? This can only be about power – the creation of a nation within a nation,” she said.
“This can only be about taking power from Whitefellas and giving it to Blackfellas. This is Australia’s version of apartheid. Are they prepared for the compensation or reparations that will be demanded if the High Court rules that ‘traditional ownership’ means ‘sovereign control’? Where will you be if you recognize traditional ownership every day? Do you appreciate that like millions of Australians, I legally own my land and have worked very hard for it? Do I also have rights to my land? Can’t you recognize my connection to my country and my love for my country?”
Ms Hanson took aim at Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe, who last week called the One Nation leader “ignorant and racist” for storming out during the recognition.
Ms Thorpe held up her first in a black power sign as she branded the Queen a “colonist” during her oath of allegiance on Monday in the chamber.
“I note Lidia Thorpe’s racist objection in the past when she told me to go back to where I came from,” Mr Hanson said.
“She can rest assured that I have indeed returned to where I came from – back to Queensland, where I was born and where I raised my children and where my parents and grandparents were born. I have nowhere else to go. Australia is my home. Australia is our home – indigenous and non-indigenous alike.”
She warned that despite Mr Albanese’s assertion that the Indigenous Voice would not have veto power over laws, he cannot speak for future governments “or say what laws need to be referred to the Voice before Parliament for consultation, who to.” election stand can have their say and who will be entitled to vote”.
Ms Hanson also raised the issue of the growing number of Australians identifying as Indigenous, which some Indigenous leaders have warned could make it harder for the government to help those underprivileged.
“We need a stronger definition of Aboriginal people,” she said.
“From 2016 to 2021, the number of Australians identifying as Indigenous increased by 92,000, or 26 per cent, while our overall population increase, including immigration, was just 8 per cent. That’s what we call ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.”
She concluded by criticizing the voting proposal as being full of “empty gestures and symbolism that make progressives feel good but otherwise accomplish nothing.”
“It also stinks of the sickening, condescending attitude that privileged bureaucrats and legislators routinely take towards Indigenous Australians – proud members of a culture that has endured for tens of thousands of years,” she said.
“This is an attempt to rewrite the past, manipulate the present and destroy the future. Unlike either side of this Chamber, I have listened to Indigenous Australians and their elders. Stop using them as fodder for your own ends.”
“The hard right calls the shots”
Her comments came after former Prime Minister Tony Abbott also criticized the government’s plan for a constitutional vote in Parliament, saying it risked deeper divisions in the country and weaker governance.
In an opinion piece in The Australian On Wednesday, Mr Abbott said while he was in favor of recognizing Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, he would draw the line of support at any attempt to make a “race-based body part of our Parliament and not if it means changing our system.” by government”.
His comments have weathered criticism from incumbent government ministers, including Ed Husic, who blasted the Liberal Party on Wednesday.
“If that view is what the current group of Coalition MPs is drawn to, it tells me two things – the hard right is calling the shots and the Coalition has learned nothing from their loss,” he told ABC radio.
Mr Abbott said a vote in Parliament would “make race an element” of who can vote and stand for election and also “inevitably change” the way the Australian government works.
“Because a particular group will have an indefinite say on indefinite issues with indefinite implications,” he wrote.
“Good for Anthony Albanese for wanting to do the right thing by Aboriginal people. But a vote in parliament wouldn’t really be power – unless it turns out to be much more than just an advisory body. Obviously, if the body is to end, in the words of the Prime Minister, “121 years of Commonwealth governments arrogantly believing they know enough to impose their own solutions on Aboriginal people,” it will have something of a veto over decisions that Parliament could otherwise meet.”
Mr Albanese and the ministers responsible remained elusive as to what Parliament’s vote would be.
There have been calls from independents, Greens and the coalition for the government to release more details about the vote ahead of next year’s referendum.
Some critics of the vote, like Ms Price of the Country Liberal Party, say it would do more harm than good – a sentiment shared by Mr Abbott.
“Everything about the proposed vote oozes ingrained separatism as atonement for dispossession, although Aboriginal people can never expect to achieve Australian results without also embracing Australian standards,” Abbott wrote.
“The last thing we should do is allow our goodwill to cloud judgment and morally compel us to become a more divided and less well-governed country.”
Indigenous Minister Linda Burney said the government would deliberate “at length” on the vote ahead of the referendum.
“We’re going to consult, we’re going to talk to people and answer the things that people are concerned about,” Ms Burney said over the weekend.
“But I can assure you that we will proceed cautiously and cooperatively and take people with us. This is important.”
– with NCA NewsWire