Gurindji activist Maurie Japarta Ryan says the temporary suspension of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council is another attempt to silence Indigenous voices.
By
Source:
NITV News
2 Feb 2017 - 6:57 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2017 - 6:57 PM

Gurindji activist Maurie Japarta Ryan says the temporary suspension of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council is another attempt to silence Indigenous voices. 

"The previous Prime Minister abolished ATSIC, this mob is doing the same thing. What they've done is clear out Aboriginal issues in Canberra for a start. To not have a voice at this very moment when Malcolm Turnbull is talking about whether it's a plebiscite or whether you're gonna have a referendum...This is all wrong," he told NITV News. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull temporarily dissolved the Indigenous Advisory Council on Tuesday. 

Council chairman Warren Mundine was informed by email that his services as chairman are no longer required and that the group’s further meetings have been cancelled.

Mr Mundine told Sky News the move was expected late last year with the government extending the term of the ten member council by just one month.

"As our term was put to the 31st of January, that's now gone, that was last night. And now we're out of a job," he said. 

Maurie Japarta Ryan admits the Council did do good things, however he says the credibility of Warren Mundine as a leader of the body was questionable. 

"He doesn't have any credibility outside of New South Wales. He doesn't understand that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are remote, urban, traditional, non-traditional, and live different lifestyles. He doesn't understand the issues that confront day-to-day people in remote communities," he said. 

The Council was set up in 2013 under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott to provide advice to the government on Indigenous issues. 

While it will temporarily cease to exist, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has advised the government is committed to keeping it in the longer term. 

Speaking to 2GB Radio, Malcolm Turnbull said the Council has not been dissolved. 

“We haven’t dissolved it, we’re appointing new members. The existing Council membership, their term has run out, and Cabinet next week will be confirming the new members of the Advisory Council. So it will continue and it will be refreshed as it should be with some new members," he said. 

Maurie Japarta Ryan says he's concerned the new appointments next week will not be considered thoroughly. 

"They haven't gone out and consulted the people. It's rush, rush, rush, so they can put something in place," he said.

Related reading
Turnbull dissolves Indigenous Advisory Council, new appointments expected
Head of the Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, was informed via email that the group's further meetings have been canceled.

"How long does it take to scrap Parliament to the Governor-General then call an election? Three months. Now, why is that? Because we're all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders they can treat us like this." 

"Who is gonna get up and speak in the meantime?" 

Meanwhile, The National Congress of Australia's First People's has welcomed the suspension, telling the ABC it is the 'better and more representative body.' 

Congress co-chairs Rod Little and Jackie Huggins said a statement provided to the ABC: "Congress is and will be a much more valuable informant to the parliament than hand-picked individuals with lesser networks, knowledge or experience across matters impacting on our people on a daily basis."

The temporary scrapping of the Council has had a mixed reaction on social media. But many agree Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should decide who will represent them. 

Mr Ryan agrees and says Indigenous Australians need to have a voice. 

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want time to be able to put up nominations, legally and morally, and then people choose. That's the fairest thing to do," he said." 

"If Turnbull doesn't listen to the people, it's a waste of time." 

RELATED ARTICLE
Turnbull dissolves Indigenous Advisory Council, new appointments expected
Head of the Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, was informed via email that the group's further meetings have been canceled.