Labor MP Marion Scrymgour has hit back at Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Price over comments she made about the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
The Voice to Parliament was a key element of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart and called for an elected Indigenous advisory body to the Federal Parliament.
The proposed body would advise the government on issues affecting First Nations people.
Speaking to Sky News Australia on Sunday evening Ms Price said the proposal was being driven by elites.
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“Having just come back from Garma myself, there are people in remote communities who do not have a clue,” she told Chris Smith.
“Make no mistake, this is being driven by elites who have largely been part of the gravy train.
“An industry that has been built on the backs of the misery of marginalized Indigenous Australians, and enshrining a voice is enshrining their voices into parliament to ensure that they can never be removed or dismantled.”
Ms Scrymgour, who represents the Federal Northern Territory seat of Lingiari, was asked about the “offensive” comments just one day later.
“I find that a bit offensive,” Ms Scrymgour told Sky News Australia on Monday.
“Because a lot of the people who have been leading these discussions for many years – including myself – I don’t see myself as an elitist.”
Ms Scrymgour cited her experience being in the remote Indigenous communities as she rejected the gravy train claim.
“I’ve spent nearly 40 years on the ground in communities watching our people struggle and taking it up to governments,” she said.
“I know a lot of the people who work in that industry would find her comments not only offensive but also sad.
“I don’t think there’s been a gravy train of Indigenous members who have worked on this for a long time.
“We have absolute commitment to our people and we will continue to have that commitment.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese unveiled his government’s preferred Voice to Parliament referendum question and three provisions to be included in the constitution during his address at the Garma Festival gathering of indigenous leaders in north-east Arnhem Land.
During the speech to the Festival on Saturday, he said the question needed to be “simple and clear”.
The draft question will be posed as: “Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”
The three sentences that would be added into the constitution are:
- There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
For the Indigenous Voice referendum to be successful, the “Yes” vote needs a national majority and must be carried by at least four of the six states.
There have been only eight successful referendums out of 44, with the last constitutional amendment to be carried taking place in 1977