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Warren Mundine calls Uluru Statement "declaration of war" in anti-Voice Press Club address

Jarred Cross -

No campaign leader Warren Mundine says the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a leading document behind the push for a Voice to Parliament, is a “symbolic declaration of war against modern Australia”.

Speaking to the National Press Club on Monday, Mr Mundine laid out his misgivings with the Voice and raised key areas to address towards Closing the Gap in its place. 

His speech came just three weeks ahead of October 14’s referendum. 

Mr Mundine says the nation has been offered a “glossy marketing brochure for the misappropriation of culture, misrepresentation of history, and for a radical and divisive vision of Australia all done in the name of Indigenous Australians but working against us”.

He said the Voice threatens to group all Indigenous Australians together and embed segregation into the constitution with consequences for Traditional Owner rights. 

“No other group of Australians will have a body interest in the constitution to speak on their behalf with a single voice. Only one race of people will be treated in this way," Mr Mundine said.

The Uluru Statement, in his view, entrenches atrocities of the past to ‘condemn’ First Peoples. 

“Indigenous people also need to forgive Australia as a nation. Many Aboriginals feel angry about past wrongdoings but these events cannot be undone,” he said. 

“We have a choice to continue to feel aggrieved, or to draw a line in history and not be captive to that past. Always remember, never forget the history. Learn from it but move forward. 

“The Uluru statement couldn't be further from the idea of reconciliation. The full manifesto is steeped in grievance. It sees Indigenous Australians as trapped in victimhood and oppression not free are able to make their own decisions.

He said most Indigenous Australians "are doing fine".

With Indigenous members of parliament Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Kerrynne Liddle, Mr Mundine has been a figurehead within the Voice no camp. 

Despite fractures presenting between himself and colleagues following Mr Mundine’s aired support for Treaty in recent weeks, he echoed much of Senator Price’s Press Club comments from a fortnight earlier. 

Both claimed the Voice would act as an additional layer of bureaucracy in Canberra and is built on lies. 

Mr Mundine claimed Voice proponents have falsely suggested Indigenous Australians don't already have a voice or aren't involved in policy making, that it would exclusively give good advice, would only operate as an advisory body - without risk of unknown operation, and act as a “magic wand” to fix everything. 

In concert with Senator Price, Mr Mundine was critical of spending into Indigenous affairs and asked for accountability from government. 

He called for investment action into education, economic participation and violence and abuse in remote Australia.

“There is no disparity for Indigenous Australians who are educated at the same level as other Australians… just imagine if every Indigenous child went to school every day. Think about what a profound impact that would have,” Mr Mundine said.

“Growing up in the way I did, I learned the only solution to poverty is economic participation…I don't know any group of people in the world that has lifted out of poverty without economic participation.

“If every Indigenous child went to school and every Indigenous adult went to work there would be no gap.

“Lots of well intended people are enthusiastic about the symbolism of this shiny new thing; the Voice. But when it comes to doing the challenging work on specific areas of need, enthusiasm wanes.”

Mr Mundine said these points “are not complicated ideas, but they require political will to change”.

Uluru Statement architect and yes campaigner professor Megan Davis later labelled Mr Mundine’s description of the Uluru Statement “inflammatory” and “repugnant”.

“What our people wanted was peace (and) a coming together of the nation. And that is what the Uluru statement is. And it's very disappointing that it's been regard as some sort of aggressive and angry display or declaration of war upon modern Australia,” Professor Davis told ABC.


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