Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says the Uluru Statement from the Heart has been “confirmed” as being 26 pages long by the agency that produced the documents under freedom of information, as she called on Anthony Albanese to “come clean” after the Prime Minister derided the claim as a “QAnon” style conspiracy theory on Tuesday.
The Opposition’s Indigenous Australians spokeswoman told Sky News on Tuesday night that the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) had confirmed to her office that the full statement, contained in a lengthy FOI release to the Northern Territory Senator earlier this week, was indeed 26 pages.
“My office today sought clarification from the FOI team at NIAA to determine whether the Uluru statement from the heart is simply one page or the full 26 pages,” she told Sky News host Peta Credlin. “My staff got a phone call at 12.54 this afternoon with a verbal clarification that the document is, in fact, the 26 pages and not just, of course, the one page.”
The NIAA has been contacted for comment.
Debate over the 2017 document has been raging since last week, after Credlin accused Mr Albanese of misleading voters by repeatedly claiming the Uluru Statement — which he has likened to the Gettysburg Address — was a “two-minute” read that can “fit on one A4 page”.
Credlin urged Australians to read the “full” 26 pages, the tenor of which she said was one of “anger, grievance, separatism, and the need to undo, as far as possible, the last 240 years of Australian history”.
The NIAA documents, which also include minutes from 13 “regional dialogue” consultation events with around 1200 Indigenous people that informed the final wording of the Uluru Statement, raise the prospect of a “financial settlement” and “reparations” to Indigenous Australians for “past, present and future criminal acts” under a proposed treaty, with suggestions that “a fixed percentage” of GDP be handed over through “rates, land tax and royalties”.
The 26-page version of the Uluru Statement states that “Makarrata”, or treaty-making, was the ”culmination of our agenda” and that ”by making agreements at the highest level, the negotiation process with the Australian government allows First Nations to express our sovereignty”.
The Coalition last week seized on Mr Albanese’s promise after entering office to enact the Uluru Statement “in full”, using the prospect of a treaty to attack the Voice referendum as public support for the proposal plummets nationwide.
Mr Albanese used Question Time on Tuesday to blast the claims as a “QAnon” style conspiracy theory.
“That is a conspiracy in search of a theory, Mr Speaker,” the PM said.
“It is something that has been out there, like a whole lot of the QAnon theories, we have all sorts of conspiracy stuff out there, but this is a ripper. That is the Uluru Statement from the Heart on an A4 bit of paper. That is it. But what we have here is the conspiracy theories colliding with each other. They’re struggling to get their scares straight. I mean, what role did Marcia Langton play in the faking of the moon landing, Mr Speaker? What was the role of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in that?”
He stressed it was “absolutely nonsense”.
“There’s a whole lot of projection going on here, Mr Speaker, more projection than a film festival,” he said.
“And it’s coming from those opposite, who do not want to debate the facts. Take what is in the Uluru Statement, that is an eloquent request from Indigenous Australians to come together as a nation.”
Labor MP Tanya Plibersek also branded the claims a “conspiracy theory”.
“Libs and Nats jumped the shark today on the Voice,” she tweeted.
“In question time they are asking about an internet conspiracy theory that the Uluṟu Statement from the Heart is not one page — but 26! Sigh. Of course people are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.”
Sky News host Chris Kenny, a vocal advocate of the Voice who has publicly clashed with his colleague Credlin, also rubbished her claims.
On his show on Monday night, Kenny said it was “simply not true, it is nonsense” that the Uluru Statement was 26 pages.
“Credlin’s claim hinges on the fact that in some public service Word document, or some filing, they’ve put another bunch of pages in the same batch of documents,” he said.
“It’s discussion papers and background notes from the meetings leading up to the statement, there are summaries of some of the discussions … the bureaucracy is chock-a-block with notes like these. These pages are not the Uluru Statement. They are not government policy.”
Speaking to Credlin on Tuesday, Ms Price said Mr Albanese “needs to come clean to the Australian people, not just on this issue but on various other issues around treaty, around details of the Voice”.
“He’s dancing around everything and taking the Australian people for a ride,” she said.
Ms Price said Australians were “dumbfounded at the idea that non-Indigenous Australians should be paying some kind of compensation or reparations to those of us who are of Indigenous heritage for things that occurred in our history, you know, 150 to 200 years ago”.
“Those of us alive today are not responsible for what occurred in the past and there’s no one around today who’s 150 to 200 years old, either,” she said.
Senator Price said that people viewed the issue as a “huge distraction”. “It’s not supporting our most marginalised Indigenous Australians, which is what they claim the Voice is about,” she said. “It’s a whole other agenda and it’s turning people off support for constitutional [recognition].”
Asked by Ms Price in Question Time on Tuesday whether he remained “committed to a national treaty as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart”, the Prime Minister provided a lengthy answer referencing various processes in individual states.
“Of course, the issue of treaty making has been something that’s been around for a long period of time since the Barunga Statement … and of course Bob Hawke gave a commitment to advance treaty making,” he said.
“Since then, there has been various issues done. One of those of course is in Western Australia, probably the most significant one is the agreement done between Premier Barnett and Noongar people that covered southwestern Australia.”
Opposition leader Peter Dutton interrupted with a point of order, calling on Mr Albanese to give a “straight answer”.
“Can you answer a question honestly?” Mr Dutton asked.
Voice supporters last week attempted to hose down treaty talks, with prominent Yes campaigner Marcus Stewart telling The Sydney Morning Herald treaties “will come at no cost to Australians and could take 10 to 20 years to be negotiated”.
Yes campaign leader Dean Parkin accused the No side of scaremongering and said the upcoming referendum was “about one thing and one thing only, and that is about getting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to close the gap”.
“It’s important to understand that treaty processes, as the leader of the opposition well understands, are decades-long processes and take a long time to finalise,” he told the newspaper.
A series of polls in recent days – RedBridge, Newspoll and Essential – have all painted a grim picture for the Yes campaign, with experts warning the referendum is all but doomed.