Qld Liberal leader’s about-face on state treaty stuns and dismays Indigenous leaders

Liberal National leader David Crisafulli has been accused of betraying Indigenous advancement.

Liberal National leader David Crisafulli has been accused of betraying Indigenous advancement. Photo: AAQO

Deflated by the referendum result, a Queensland Indigenous leader says the state opposition’s treaty backflip just days later felt like a “kick in the guts”.

However Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli on Friday reaffirmed his new stance, saying he would not make the same mistake as “pig-headed” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

A letter on behalf of Queensland’s 17 Indigenous councils and shires has been sent to the opposition leader asking him to reconsider his decision to pull support for a path to treaty.

Comments by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Thursday that a treaty was a “long way off” and would require bipartisan support, led to speculation about its future.

Mr Crisafulli withdrew his backing following the failed Indigenous Voice referendum.

Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Robbie Sands said the timing of the opposition’s backflip “couldn’t have been worse”.

“It felt like a kick in the guts while we were down only a few days after the referendum result,” he told AAP.

It prompted Mr Sands and Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher to organise the letter from the councils and shires reminding Mr Crisafulli of his initial commitment.

Broken committment

In May Mr Crisafulli supported treaty legislation during a historic state parliament vote.

“We are urging David Crisafulli to not withdraw from the process,” Mr Sands said.

“His party committed to it in May. It’s just disappointing that all of a sudden there is a big change.”

Asked about the letter on Friday, Mr Crisafulli said: “I understand how divisive the last six months have been.

“We are not going to repeat the mistake that the prime minister did.

“We want to listen and unite.”

“Our position is very clear. We don’t want to put another divisive debate on the table – I am not putting Queensland through that,” he said.

“The Prime Minister was, dare I say, very pig-headed in not listening to the warning bells that were ringing and I’m not going to repeat that.”

Qld transport minister Mark Bailey said on Friday the state government was 100 per cent committed to the treaty process, and took aim at Mr Crisafulli.

“The first time the wind changed, (he) collapsed like a pack of cards and sold out – that’s not the sort of lily-livered leadership Queensland needs,” he said.

Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall called for state political leaders to “stop walking back commitments to treaty” at a time when people were grieving over the referendum.

“Now is not the time for rash decision-making,” he said in a statement.

“Racing to interpret the referendum results as an overall rejection of reconciliation and treaty is dangerous and short-sighted.”


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