Lidia Thorpe calls for treaty, not the Voice as Indigenous Australians share their concerns on Q+A

Lidia Thorpe calls for treaty, not the Voice as Indigenous Australians share their concerns on Q+A

Historical issues for Indigenous Australians were outlined by audience member and Wiradjuri man Paul Towney on Q+A on Monday night, before Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe said Indigenous Australians were tired of asking the government for handouts.

Key points: Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe continued to push for a treaty, not the Vote. She was challenged by Labor Minister Malarndirri McCarthy over an allegation she made about the government not wanting to slow Indigenous incarceration rates.

“We all come from a mission and reserve,” Mr Towney told Q+A.

“It was not our choice to live on these reserves or to be raised on these reserves.

“The government, they put us there.”

Mr Towney then said he was ready to throw it in during a speech where he highlighted the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the private sector and also that the Closing The Gap targets had not been met.

“I’ve been in the construction business and I’ve been struggling for 13 years to get up and established, but I’m about ready to throw it in,” he said.

“You go out, get your licences, get qualified and everything, but we don’t have the financial background of non-Indigenous Australians.

“In the private sector, everybody knows you have to have a million dollars in your account to start and we don’t, but we rely on government support.

“This month alone, I’ve been knocked back about five times on government-funded construction projects in the billions of dollars.”

‘Tired of asking’: Thorpe wants treaty Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe maintained her opposition to the Vote on Q+A.

He then asked the panel what could be done to help Indigenous Australians, as he said “Closing the Gap” was failing.

“This year, Closing the Gap, there are only two targets met in, what, 30 years … and then the other thing is for my national indigenous unemployment,” Mr Towney said.

“It’s going up to almost 20 percent higher than the national unemployment rate.”

Senior Australian of the Year Tom Calma said change had not come because of a lack of consistent government policy and added “that’s why the Vote is so important”.

It was a situation Senator Thorpe faced as she said her people had long been asking for government handouts and needed a treaty, not the Vote.

“Can I just say we are tired of asking the government,” she said.

“We are tired of standing there like poor people and saying, ‘Can you give us money? Can you help us?’

“We have come to the point where we are at a climate catastrophe… this country needs indigenous knowledge and the only sensible way to get it is through a treaty.

“The Treaty could bring us Senate seats with real power, not advisory.”

Asked what she would like to see in any treaty, Senator Thorpe said it should be up to individual tribes and nations to decide, but added that she thought it was a much better option than the Voice.

“They must have free prior and informed consent and determine their own destiny, something that this other alternative does not give you.

“A treaty is about peace, it’s about us participating in this society in a way where we can thrive, as everyone in this country seems to be doing.

“We are the sickest, poorest, dying every day – nothing is going to change through an advisory body.”

Senator Thorpe then attacked the government, saying they had no “political will” to implement changes that would reduce Indigenous incarceration and death in custody rates.

It was an accusation that did not sit well with Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy.

“It’s wrong, and I’ll tell you why it’s wrong,” Senator McCarthy said.

“We have Senator Pat Dodson who was on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and I have never worked with anyone who was more passionate about ensuring that incarceration rates in this country go down.”

However, Senator McCarthy then conceded that states and territories ultimately have responsibility for incarceration and have work to do.

Watch the full episode of Q+A on iview.

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