‘Be realistic.’ Patricia Karvelas’ ‘treaty’ clash on ABC’s Q+A

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Q+A host Patricia Karvelas was caught in a heated clash with a federal Labor MP after he continued to dodge questions about support for a treaty, following the defeat of the Voice referendum.

Appearing on the ABC program on Monday night, Patrick Gorman, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, was questioned on the government’s commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a Voice, Treaty and Truth.

“What indicates the Australian people would support a treaty following on from the results of the No vote from Saturday,” an audience member asked.

Turning to Mr Gorman, Ms Karvelas asked: “Do you support Treaty and Truth still?”

“Well, we have to look at the result we have just been given, what we said when we went to the election, and then what we acted upon was the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” he responded.

“We have just tried to deliver on that promise and we’ve got some feedback from the Australian people that that’s not the path they want us to take.”

“Hang on a minute,” Ms Karvelas interjected.

“I just want to get clarity because this is important … Are you saying that you think that the result you got was against the whole Uluru Statement?”

“No,” Mr Gorman responded. “But I’m saying that our commitment to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full is – given the result that we have received – is unable to be implemented.”

Rejecting the assertion, Ms Karvelas clarified that constitutional change was defeated at the referendum, but a Makarrata truth-telling process was not.

“Do you support it?” she again pressed.

“Some of the Makaratta work has already been underway. Linda Burney [Minister for Indigenous Australians] has outlined that over a number of months,” said Mr Gorman.

“And are you still committed to it?” Ms Karvelas asked, before Mr Gorman confirmed it remains the government’s policy today.

“And do you think it should be fully executed?”

Mr Gorman responded admitting he personally thought there would be more Truth-telling play out as part of the referendum.

When asked for final clarity on whether he fully supports the Uluru Statement, he said: “Every day I’ve sat in parliament I have supported the Uluru Statement but I also need to be very realistic that we have had a vote in a referendum about amending our constitution to implement it, that was not successful.”

“How I put it is this, there is broad agreement that the current system is broken, there is not yet broad agreement on the path.”

Ms Karvelas then tuned to Mr Gorman’s fellow panellist, Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath, noting that while he was successful at the referendum, he hasn’t “really provided an alternative”.

In response, Mr Gorman said the Coalition have called for an audit into the billions of dollars of spending into Indigenous communities across Australia, following the referendum wash-up.

“This is money of the taxpayers of Australia, it’s being spent, and it’s not getting the outcomes,” he said.

“It’s not closing the gap at the moment.”

An audit into Indigenous spending and a royal commission into child sexual abuse in remote communities are the two key demands from the Coalition.

More than half of Australia, including all six states, resoundingly voted against the proposal to enshrine an Indigenous advisory in the constitution during Saturday’s referendum.

The latest count shows 60.7 per cent of the nation voted No while 39.3 per cent voted Yes.

On Sunday, the government reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to advance reconciliation while pursuing ­treaty and truth-telling through a Makaratta commission.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the government wanted to let the “dust settle” in order to think through the next steps.

Victoria is pressing ahead to become the first state to commence a treaty process with Aboriginal peoples.

States move towards treaty

In the meantime, states have began taking action towards their own treaty processes, with Victoria pressing ahead to become the first state to commence a treaty process.

No formal treaty has ever been signed between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the British or Australian governments.

However, Victoria was arguably home to the first attempted treaty between First Nations people and European settlers when grazier John Batman sailed across the Bass Strait to engage with Wurundjeri, Bunurong and Wathaurung peoples near the Yarra River in 1835.

The treaty was later annulled by proclamation of the government of the day.

Across the border in NSW, Premier Chris Minns vowed on Monday to press ahead with a treaty consultation process, which could end up calling for a state-based Voice, according to The Daily Telegraph.

He committed $5 million to 12 months of consultations in last month’s budget.

Mr Minns said pursuing a treaty “was a commitment and of course we’ll stick with it”.

He acknowledged that a NSW treaty would require signed agreements with “150 different nations”.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas has also legislated a state-based implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty and Truth.

But the resounding vote against the proposal – including in South Australia – has sparked calls to repeal the legislation.

– With NCA Newswire

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