COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
The debate about a Voice to Parliament for Aboriginal people is reaching its crescendo. This may be a good time for the rest of the population to join them on the barricades.
Marion Scrymgour and Malarndirri McCarthy (at right) are representing the Northern Territory in the Canberra halls of power, in the House of Representatives (the seat of Lingiari) and the Senate, respectively. Both are Indigenous and committed Yes campaigners.
The Alice Springs News sent the following email to them 50 hours ago: “According to media reports two Australian warships are in the contested South China Sea for a joint exercise with the armed forces of the Philippines from August 14 to 31.
“Why has your government sent these ships?
“What has been the process of decision making for this action?
“Is the ships’ presence in that area likely to increase the risk to people in the NT given the build-up of foreign military forces in the Top End and Pine Gap continuing to be a first strike target, in the view of experts?”
When after 48 hours neither had replied we followed up with phone calls.
Ms Scrymgour (at left) did not respond but a minder did. This is what he had to say: “Your request is best put to the Minister for Defence. Marion as a local member is not involved in decision making of the Australian Defence Force.”
A staff for Senator McCarthy, in response to our follow-up call today, said: “It would be worth going to Defence for this enquiry.”
So now, 52 hours after our initial request, we’re still no wiser what these two representatives of the people in the Northern Territory know about or were doing about an issue of life or death.
Yet they are members of the Parliament which is expected to listen to the Voice, if it becomes a reality.
IMAGE AT TOP: A Philippine military resupply vessel being hit with a water canon from a Chinese Coast Guard cutter. AFP Photo. The US Naval Institute publication, where the photo appeared, yesterday reported that growing tension with China requires more surveillance off the Philippines. The United States, Japan, Australia and India, operating as “the Quad,” an informal economic and security arrangement, announced the maritime domain awareness program in May 2022.