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Opposition to Truth and Justice commission is founded on a lie

Jesse J. Fleay -

As the recently retired Senator Pat Dodson bows out with his integrity intact, Former Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, continues to oppose the demands of the Uluru Statement from the Heart as he has done since 2017. In so doing, the retired Federal Member for Hasluck has struck another blow to the hopes and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and their allies.

In a stunning double u-turn, Mr Wyatt has gone from opposing the constitutional Voice for more than half a decade, to supporting it in the 11th hour late last year, to now rubbishing the Commonwealth's attempt at initiating a Makarrata Truth and Justice Commission.

Has Mr Wyatt not learned a thing from the campaign of misinformation last year, or his time in government? Instead of employing due diligence in decision making, he has likened the proposed Makarrata commission to a South African Zaire statement. This conspiracy was comprehensively fact-checked and debunked by Australian Associated Press in October 2023. (AAP is an independent media source who are signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network.)

As an ordinary Australian who simply values the principles of Reconciliation, Truth, and Justice, I find myself correcting a senior leader who should know better. "I wouldn't go with a Makarrata Commission, not based on the African model," said Mr Wyatt this week, completely credulous to the hubris of ill reason.

Mr Wyatt should be leading the charge for meaningful progress and reconciliation. Instead, he seems to be using his voice to ensure other First Nations Australians don't have one. Leadership should exemplify integrity and a commitment to justice, yet Mr Wyatt's actions seem to prioritise the status quo over national healing.

Mr Wyatt's abandonment of the principles outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart represents a wasted opportunity for meaningful change and leaves behind a disappointing legacy.

Jesse J. Fleay is a Noongar writer and research specialist across major policy areas. His doctoral thesis explores a model for an Australian republic, along with calls to enact a Voice to Parliament for First Nations Australians. Views expressed are his own.


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