Friday, 29 Sep 2023

People shook my hand: the Indigenous man who spoke his mind at Liberal MPs voice forum

People shook my hand: the Indigenous man who spoke his mind at Liberal MPs voice forum


People shook my hand: the Indigenous man who spoke his mind at Liberal MPs voice forum

Phil Dotti says he's spent his life being told to be quiet. But the Gumbayngirr-Dhungutti man says that only strengthened his resolve to stand up for what he believes in.

So after listening to non-Indigenous people talk about the Indigenous voice to parliament for an hour and 40 minutes at a public forum, Dotti decided it was time to speak up.

Wednesday night's event in Sydney's south was hosted by the Liberal MP Jenny Ware and featured former prime minister Tony Abbott on the no side and News Corp journalist Joe Hildebrand on the yes side.

The discussion was streamed live on Ware's social media page. As it was ending, an audience member asked: "Can we please hear from a First Nations person before we go?"

Ware said there was "simply no time" and had moved on to her concluding remarks when Dotti walked down the aisle and stepped on the stage, causing a stir as he began to speak. The livestream ended soon afterwards. Dotti says there were people who got up and walked out.

Dotti says he listened to the panel, the questions from the non-Indigenous audience, and the answers. He had his hand up but was not called on to ask a question.

He says he went on the stage to speak his mind because "people needed to see someone with strength and character" - qualities his mother and grandfather instilled in him when growing up on the Burnt Bridge mission in Kempsey, New South Wales.

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