Malcolm Turnbull has been confronted by an indigenous woman over his decision to reject a “First Nations’ voice to Parliament”, declaring the proposal would “go down in flames” at a referendum.
Appearing on the ABC’s Q&A, the Prime Minister was told he lacked courage for rejecting the constitutionally enshrined advisory body, one of the key recommendations that emerged from a constitutional convention at Uluru earlier in the year.
During the at-times heated exchange, Mr Turnbull repeated the claim the “voice” would represent a third chamber of Parliament, a suggestion that indigenous leaders such as Noel Pearson have fiercely rejected.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) December 11, 2017
He argued that because all laws impacted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, the body would “have the right” to examine “every
Labelling the government’s decision a “betrayal”, indigenous leaders such as Mr Pearson have said the body would have been formulated by the Parliament, meaning it would be designed in a way to ensure it was not a third chamber.
Ms Reid, who was part of the constitutional convention, noted a poll had shown 60 per cent support for the “voice to Parliament”. She said the PM could “
Mr Turnbull hit back, suggesting Ms Reid was dismissing the role of current indigenous MPs such as Liberal Ken Wyatt and Labor’s Linda Burney.
Turnbull rules out intelligence leak
Mr Turnbull, a former Q&A regular who famously wore a brown leather jacket during one appearance, did not hesitate to challenge a series of questioners who took him to task over issues such as refugees and the NBN.
In one exchange, after Mr Turnbull defended the government’s NBN rollout, the unimpressed questioner said:
Earlier, when a woman who expressed disappointed with the Prime Minister’s leadership noted that she voted for him, Mr Turnbull quipped: “
When host Virginia Trioli asked him about former prime minister Tony Abbott’s regular interventions, Mr Turnbull replied that he was “unbothered”.
Elsewhere, when asked by Ms Trioli whether he was worried that a damaging story about Labor senator Sam Dastyari was the result of an intelligence leak, Mr Turnbull categorically denied for the first time that it had come from ASIO.
A story that suggested Senator Dastyari had provided counter-surveillance advice to Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo “did not come from ASIO”, he said.
Trioli asked the Prime Minister whether he wanted to rethink his comments about Chinese interference in Australian politics given the electorate’s large Chinese population.