Raising the spectre of a treaty has muddied the waters on constitutional recognition of Indigenous people, Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton said.
Professor Langton appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program last night.
The Yiman and Bidjara woman said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s declaration that he was open to a conversation on treaty was undermining moves to recognise Indigenous people in Australia’s Constitution.
“Why raise a treaty when you’ve spent so much money on the constitutional recognition problem?,” she asked.
“There’s a referendum council sitting there to do its work with the idea of coming up with a referendum question, the timing of the referendum, all the technicalities of a referendum and somebody throws the treaty bomb in. Why do that?”
Governments ‘wimp out’
Professor Langton, appearing alongside Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek and controversial radio host Alan Jones, didn’t hold back in her assessment of the election campaign.
“Jobs, growth, dealing with violence, making sure kids go to school every day, all of these policy settings have to be right,” she said.
“Governments mostly wimp out on it.”
She and radio host Alan Jones also agreed that too much money was being absorbed by non-Indigenous organisations in Aboriginal communities.
“Local solutions are better than all of these outreach organisations visiting your community,” she said after receiving a question from two Indigenous women from the outback New South Wales town of Wilcannia.
“It’s a complete waste of money to spend so much money on NGOs.”
Sydney radio host Alan Jones – who has angered Indigenous people in the past with his commentary on racism and the Stolen Generations – agreed.
“It’s a scandal,” Mr Jones said.
“All this money goes to indigenous Australia and it gets swallowed up by white bureaucrats.”