Turnbull’s Rejection Of Indigenous Consensus Met With Anger, Resilience

Indigenous Australians are expressing a deep disappointment in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Federal Government for formally rejecting the changes recommended by the landmark Uluru Statement from the Heart, including the creation of an official Indigenous “voice to Parliament.”

However, some advocates of the historic proposal have drawn on the resiliency of Australia’s First Peoples as an indicator that foundational changes to the nation’s constitution will eventually come to fruition.

Yesterday, Turnbull announced that the Coalition had chosen not to hold a referendum on the proposals put forward by the Referendum Council earlier this year, the most notable of which was the proposed creation of a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous representative body which would serve to steer Parliament on Indigenous issues.


Instead of putting the proposal to a nationwide vote, Turnbull said the government doesn’t believe “such a radical change to our constitution’s representative institutions has any realistic prospect of being supported by a majority of Australians in a majority of States.”

The effective trashing of the Referendum Council’s work – which sought input and consensus from hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and experts from across the nation – has been seen as a needless and deeply disrespectful setback.

Labor senator and Indigenous leader Pat Dodson said the refusal to hold a referendum on the proposals was a “real kick in the guts for the Referendum Council and certainly a slap in the face of those proponents.”

Josephine Cranshaw, co-chair of the Uluru Statement Working Group in charge of determining how that “voice” would take shape, said “after a decade of discussion and millions spent on Constitutional Recognition, it is unfortunate we have come to this.

“We have come to a point where seemingly no action will be taken.”

That sentiment was mirrored by co-chair Suzanne Thompson, who added “her people were a patient people.”

In the aftermath of the Turnbull government’s decision, that same feeling has been broadcast elsewhere: a deep disappointment that the current government has rejected a workable proposal formed by Indigenous consensus, and a knowledge the setback won’t end the push for an Indigenous voice to Parliament.





ABC reports that Indigenous leaders are likely to advocate a ‘No’ vote on any referendums put forward by the government which do not reference the “voice to Parliament” provision put forward by the Uluru Statement.