Prominent ‘Yes’ campaigner and co-author of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Professor Marcia Langton, has been accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed that she had published a newspaper article in 2018 in which she referred to fellow indigenous colleague Senator Jacinta Price and her mother as the “coloured help.” Langton, who has been vocal about racism from opponents of the Voice, faced backlash after her past remarks surfaced this week.
The article, titled “The folly of Jacinta Price,” was published in The Saturday Paper and referred to Senator Price and her mother, a former Northern Territory cabinet minister, as “useful coloured help” representing conservatives. Langton went on to claim that the majority of Senator Price’s social media followers were “rabid racists.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton condemned Langton’s comments, describing them as “bitter and vitriolic.” He questioned whether someone like Langton, who has expressed such views, should be part of the Voice and have a role in advising the government on issues concerning Indigenous communities. Dutton urged Australians to consider whether Langton’s involvement in the Voice would genuinely benefit Indigenous people in remote communities.
The revelation of Langton’s past remarks has raised concerns about her suitability to be part of the Voice, which is intended to represent the interests and concerns of Indigenous Australians. Critics argue that her derogatory comments undermine her credibility and ability to contribute effectively to the Voice’s work.
The Voice, a proposed advisory body to the Australian government, aims to give Indigenous Australians a greater say in policies and decisions that affect them. It was recommended in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a document produced as a result of the First Nations National Constitutional Convention held in 2017.
The Voice, if established, would provide a platform for Indigenous people to voice their opinions and offer advice on matters that impact their communities. It is seen by many as a crucial step towards reconciliation and addressing the ongoing issues faced by Indigenous Australians.
However, the controversy surrounding Langton highlights the challenges and complexities of establishing the Voice. The body must be representative of all Indigenous Australians and command the trust and respect of the wider community. Instances of offensive or derogatory remarks from potential members of the Voice undermine its legitimacy and risk alienating those it seeks to serve.
This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of holding public figures accountable for their words and actions. Transparency and consistency are essential in ensuring that those tasked with representing the interests of others act with integrity and respect.
It remains to be seen how this revelation will impact Langton’s involvement in the Voice and the broader discussion surrounding its establishment. The controversy has sparked a debate about the selection process for the Voice and the criteria used to assess potential members.
As the discussion continues, it is clear that the Voice must strive to represent the diversity of Indigenous Australians and address the concerns and aspirations of all communities. Members of the Voice must be individuals who consistently demonstrate a commitment to equality, fairness, and respect for all Australians, regardless of their background or beliefs.
The path towards reconciliation and addressing the injustices faced by Indigenous Australians is a long and complex one. The establishment of the Voice is just one step in a broader journey towards achieving true equality and recognition for Indigenous people. It is essential that those entrusted with the responsibility of shaping the Voice embody the values of inclusivity and fairness.
As Australians continue to debate the future of the Voice and its role in shaping national policies, discussions about appropriate representation and the importance of respectful dialogue will undoubtedly play a significant role in determining the way forward. Only through open and honest conversations can progress be made towards a more equitable and inclusive society for all Australians.