Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has urged Indigenous people to “rise above” the Adam Goodes booing saga and look towards the “blue horizons of hope” at the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land.
In an impassioned speech to Indigenous leaders as well as Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, Mr Pearson said he had been “discombobulated by events down south” and felt “fear, trouble and anger” in his heart.
“Many of us we don’t know our fellow Australians; we think we know them too well,” he said.
“These thoughts are too strong and not entirely right.”
Mr Pearson said Indigenous Australians should not look to the booing of Goodes and accusations of racial slurs as indicative of the progress of reconciliation.
He urged to “rise above anger and fear” and “summon up the better Australia we too often show ourselves to be”.
Mr Pearson also addressed News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt’s claim he too was an Indigenous Australian, contrasting the 50,000-year heritage of Indigenous Australia with the 200-year history of European settlement.
He concluded by saying empowerment and recognition went together, and would lead to reconciliation.
Indigenous recognition before statehood, says Morrison
Meanwhile, Northern Land Council chief executive Joe Morrison poured cold water on the Northern Territory’s statehood aspirations, saying the campaign was a “damaging distraction from the much bigger question” of recognition of Aboriginal people in the Australian constitution.
In his speech at the Garma Festival, Mr Morrison also sounded a note of caution about a new kind of township lease signed with fanfare yesterday.
Speaking about statehood, Mr Morrison said Indigenous people continued to harbour serious reservations about NT statehood and how it could affect the 1976 Land Right Act.
The leaders of the other states and territories and Prime Minister Tony Abbott backed the NT becoming Australia’s seventh state at a recent Sydney leaders meeting.
However, with Chief Minister Adam Giles in the audience, Mr Morrison said “recent history” showed the NT did not have robust enough machinery of government to be a state.
He added the issue should only be addressed after constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people.
“I say the timing is all wrong,” he said.
“Any campaign for territory statehood is a damaging distraction from the much bigger question.”
Mr Morrison also said he and Senator Scullion had been at “serious loggerheads” over a new kind of township lease proposed for an Arnhem Land community.
Yesterday, Senator Scullion and Gumatj clan leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu signed an agreement to develop a new type of township lease over the Gumatj community of Gunyangara.
Unlike traditional township leases, the lease is held by an Aboriginal corporation rather than a community entity.
It is hoped the lease will help establish new housing and business, but the NLC is concerned they hand over control of land to the Federal Government.
“We’re not opposed to township leases but don’t want to see traditional owners lose control and forfeit property rights,” Mr Morrison said.