An Aboriginal woman has used national television to tell her local MP to stop inviting her to Australia Day events.
Actor and proud Ngarrindjeri, Narungga, Kaurna and Noongar woman Natasha Wanganeen appeared on the Q+A panel on Monday night, where the Indigenous Voice to Parliament was a hot topic, just five days out from the October 14 referendum.
Host Patricia Karvelas asked Ms Wanganeen, who is opposed to the Voice, why she doesn’t think the Voice will represent grassroots communities.
“Well they haven’t heard me and my grassroots community,” Ms Wanganeen said, directing her response at fellow panellists Liberal federal MP James Steven, Federal Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.
“You guys haven’t been out there to speak to us,” Ms Wanganeen said, before speaking to Mr Steven directly.
“And you keep sending me emails inviting me to Australia Day celebrations; I’m going to say nationally – can you stop?
“It’s disrespectful to someone like me, who stands for Aboriginal issues every day of my life, so please stop doing that.”
Her statement was met with loud applause from the audience.
Ms Wanganeen then turned her attention to Ms Burney and Mr Malinauskas, admonishing them over the unearthing of 31 Aboriginal remains beneath the construction site of a housing development in the northern Adelaide suburb of Riverlea.
“How can I be proud of [Mr Malinauskas] digging up my people out there? There’s over 300 plus bodies out there,” Ms Wanganeen said.
“My ancestors, and my family’s here in the audience too, that’s their ancestors as well, have been pulled out of the ground.
“It is very disrespectful, and I can’t respect the government that won’t respect 65,000 years of my culture.”
Mr Malinauskas explained his government has issued a stop-work order on that development while the remains are relocated in a respectful way. He later committed to personally meeting with Ms Wanganeen to discuss the issue.
Uluru Dialogue Leadership and APY artist Sally Scales also appeared on the panel, broadcast from Adelaide, with the panellists sharing their views and opinions on the Voice.
Passionate audience members also called out at several points during the show, causing Ms Karvelas to interject.
“Can I just say, this is going to be a respectful debate,” Ms Karvelas said to one rowdy audience member.
“I understand you’ve got passionate views, but we’re going to have respectful debate … I hold the talking stick.”
The referendum will be held on Saturday, but polls are pointing to a major loss for the Yes campaign.
In a piece written for news.com on Monday, the Prime Minister again implored Australians to vote yes.
“So if you want to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture in our Constitution, vote Yes,” he wrote.
“If you want to make a positive change for the Australians who need it most: vote Yes.
“If you want to wake up to a stronger, fairer and more reconciled Australia, vote Yes.”