News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt has called for Qantas to remove its support for a campaign that calls for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, putting him at odds with Federal Attorney-General George Brandis.
In an interview with NITV News today, Bolt said the "Recognise" campaign for constitutional recognition of Australia's first people was racist.
"It's racist because anything that divides us on the grounds of our so-called race or the race of one or more of our ancestors is of course racist," he said. "What else is it?"
"We need to look at each other as individuals regardless of race and stop carrying on with something that will not give one job to one Aboriginal man out bush, or bring food on the table for one Aboriginal family, or put one Aboriginal child through school."
The comments came after Bolt was earlier accused by former Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson of himself holding a racist position on the campaign.
In an appearance on The Bolt Report on Sunday, Dr Emerson took issue with Bolt's definition or racism as anything that divided people on the basis of race.
"Then you are a racist," Dr Emerson said, "because of the comments you made in relation to Indigenous people. By your own criterion, and that's what you did. You identified a group of people and went for them."
Bolt appeared affronted by the characterisation, labelling it offensive.
"Well, I'm offended by you describing this [Recognise] as a racist campaign," Dr Emerson said. "This is not a racist campaign."
In today's interview with NITV, Bolt was quizzed over whether he would reconsider flying Qantas if it did not remove the Recognise slogan from its plane.
"You think Recognise symbol should be removed.. What if it's not?" NITV presenter Michelle Lovegrove asked. "Do you fly Qantas? Would you continue to fly Qantas if that 'R' stays up there on the plane?"
"Well I don't want to fly Qantas thinking I'm going to be buying an argument about racial politics in this country, so I think I might give it a skip," Bolt said.
"But people are free to make whatever call they like."
Bolt's position is at odds with that of Federal Attorney-General George Brandis who today said he did not think the campaign was racist.
But Bolt fell short of suggesting Mr Brandis - or other high-profile supporters of the campaign such as Labor senator Nova Peris or Liberal politician Ken Wyatt - should withdraw their support for Recognise.
Bolt told NITV he was not concerned about taking parts out of the Constitution but was concerned with adding parts to it.
"They're more concerned with putting back into the Constitution those powers that would allow race-specific legislation, laws, programs," he said of the Recognise movement. "I don't think that is actually the way forward."
But he rejected the suggestion that references to the Monarch of England should be removed from the Constitution’s preamble because they too could be deemed racist.
"It’s not racist,” he said. “Look, as a conservative, if it doesn’t hurt, don’t fix."
He dismissed constitutional recognition as a "token movement that is the start of dividing us by race", adding that enough had been done in the movement toward Indigenous recognition.
"When does this process stop?" he said.
"We've had a sorry, we've had an act of recognition, we've had the Mabo decision.
"I don't know why the cream of Aboriginal politics in this country is so fixated on devoting so much time to something so useless that won't help a single person out bush."