Sky News Australia hosts Andrew Bolt and Chris Kenny have clashed in a heated debate over the government’s Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Kenny – a member of the senior advisory group that guided the Indigenous Voice co-design process – appeared on The Bolt Report on Monday night and told his fellow primetime host that allowing First Nations people to have their say on how to combat Indigenous disadvantage would give them “a fair go”.
“We want to overcome indigenous disadvantage because we have no mechanism for those indigenous Australians to actually have their say,” Kenny said.
“To tell us what they think will help redress health outcomes or employment outcomes or domestic violence in remote communities”
“We ought to allow those people to have a say. It’s a fair go.”
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But Bolt fired back and said it was “more than a fair go” pointing to the proportion of indigenous MPs in Parliament.
Of the 11 parliamentarians who identify as Indigenous there are three lower house MPs – Jana Stewart, Marion Scrymgour and Dr Gordon Reid – and seven Senators – Pat Dodson, Malarndirri McCarthy, Linda Burney, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Jacqui Lambie, Kerrynne Liddle, Dorinda Cox and Lydia Thorpe.
While Kenny said it was not “relevant”, Bolt replied by suggesting Voice would serve as a “separate parliament”.
“Nope. It’s not a separate parliament it’s an advisory body,” Kenny responded.
The Labor Government pushed the issue to the center of its agenda when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declared on election night that there would be a referendum in his first term.
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.
Bolt said the Voice would set up a “false dichotomy” and establish race as the defining difference between Australians.
“It stresses its race as the primary difference between us which I think is false, wrong and dangerous,” he said.
Kenny responded by saying that Indigenous Australians are the most disadvantaged people in the country.
“Now there is all sorts of complex reason for that but it is a national shame that their life expectancy is shorter,” he said.
“They are much less likely to finish school, to get an education, to get a job and we all want that.
“And I believe that requires some special attention from government.”