A leading architect of the Uluru dialogue has labelled Lidia Thorpe’s claim she had been left out from the Voice debate as “lies”.
In a speech at the National Press Club yesterday, the Independent senator argued she and members of the Blak Sovereign Movement had been excluded from discussions around the upcoming referendum.
Co-author of the Uluru statement from the heart, Professor Megan Davis, said the allegations were false.
“It’s not what happened,” Dr Davis told ABC.
“Lidia herself participated in the Uluru dialogues, she was at the Melbourne dialogue run by the Victorian traditional owners corporation, and she was at the national convention where she famously walked out.”
Professor Davis said Thorpe’s comments related to a speech she made at the National Press Club in 2016 about Indigenous leaders being “cynical about the country’s capacity to change.”
“When that comment was made, and when we were designing the dialogues in 2016, I didn’t know who Lidia Thorpe was at the time,” Dr Davis said.
“She wasn’t prominent like she is now, so the idea that was directed to the Blak Sovereign Movement is not true.”
In an hour-long speech yesterday, senator Thorpe said that a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice would be useless and pushed to cancel the referendum.
She labelled the Voice as “window-dressing for constitutional recognition” and said government-led consultation made during the Uluru dialogues had been “tokenistic”
“The Voice is the easy way to fake progress without actually having to change a thing,” she said.
“It is a destructive distraction absolving government of its continued crimes.”
The vote, which is likely to occur between October and December 2023, will ask Australian’s whether they agree to alter the nation’s constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Polls released this week has shown support for the proposed advisory body has slipped in NSW from 48 to 46 per cent.
Despite recent negative polling the Yes movement has seen an “overwhelming sentiment and good will” for the referendum, according to Dr Davis.
“The landscape is really cluttered because of the misinformation and disinformation that is prosecuting outright lies,” she said.
“Most Australians don’t want Trumpian misinformation and disinformation in their politics, and they certainly don’t want American style race discourse.
“What we’re hearing is that Australians want a positive and optimistic vision for the future.”