A Leading no campaigner has called for recognition of Aboriginal land rights and to change the date of January 26 while arguing the country should “move on” from talking about colonisation.
Warren Mundine, a prominent Aboriginal activist and No campaigner, said he had “never seen so much racism” during the debate over whether Australia should enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in its Constitution.
“In the last 12 months, I've never seen so much racism and comments and attacks then I have seen since I was a kid,” Mr Mundine told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.
“It’s dreadful... if the Prime Minister was going to bring this referendum forward and he is talking about uniting the people, he shouldn’t have used derogatory terms against people who didn’t agree with them.”
Mr Mundine rebuffed suggestions that Mr Albanese’s use of the term “Chicken Little” paled in comparison to No campaign spokesperson Gary John’s comments suggesting Indigenous people should undergo blood tests to access welfare benefits.
“If we’re going to eliminate racism or try to eliminate racism, then we’ve got to talk to racists,” Mr Mundine said.
“I think he had an opinion, and I don't agree with his (Gary Johns) opinion.
“Once you start talking about race it never ends well, so we’ve got to stop talking race.”
Mr Mundine’s appearance comes after fellow No campaigner Jacinta Nampijinpa Price told reporters that she did not believe the ongoing effects of colonisation have negatively impacted the lives of Indigenous Australians.
During a speech on Thursday, Senator Price argued the conversation around colonisation and its impacts “victimised” Aboriginal people and removed their agency.
Mr Mundine agreed that many Indigenous people continue to suffer the consequences of past maltreatment and discrimination, but said Australia should learn to “move on” from discussing its history of trauma and neglect.
“It's just fact, it has happened, it's going to stop us from doing things, it’s going to stop us from improving our lives and keep us from poverty. If that’s the statement, then I think we are heading up the wrong track,” Mr Mundine told ABC’s David Speers.
Mr Mundine said he supported treaty negotiations between the government and First Nations people, despite leading No advocates including Senator Price and Liberal leader Peter Dutton being opposed.
He said treaties would help solve “a number of issues” around sovereignty and help protect Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal heritage across lands.
“I say treaties in the plural sense because we have to recognise Aboriginal culture. Aboriginal culture is our First Nations, and the first thing we learn about life is that one nation cannot talk about another nation‘s country, only those traditional owners of those countries can talk about those countries, and therefore when you talk about like a state treaty or a national-type treaty, it doesn’t make sense in our culture,” he said.
Mr Mundie also “stood strong” on his calls to change the date of January 26.
“I know people on my side don't agree with me on these two issues and that is and that is treaties and changing the date,” he said
“January 26 will always be an important day because of the fact that European countries came to Australia and set up the colonies here. We can‘t get away from that.
“But we can‘t become captive of it. We have to face the facts and move on. Yes, recognise history. Yes, recognise the invasion, recognise the good and bad that is in our history, but we still have to move on.”