A co-author for the Indigenous Voice model has backed Anthony Albanese’s decision to recruit star US basketball player Shaquille O’Neal and his support for the referendum.
Indigenous academic Marcia Langton, alongside Tom Calma, wrote a detailed report on how the voice to parliament could work and praised the PM’s move to bring O’Neal on board.
“He is a global hero to young black men and women because of his sporting prowess and his great personality,” she told The Australian.
“He made the offer, so I think it’s really wonderful to have that kind of support.
“Thinking practically, the advantage for us in him coming to our aid is that young Australians will ask themselves, ‘What is Shaq on about now?’ They’ll take a look and find out about it.”
The surprise appearance by Shaq alongside Mr Albanese and Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney at the weekend has since caused controversy.
Ms Burney’s predecessor Ken Wyatt said there were Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in favour of the voice who would have “greater impact than somebody who comes from another country”.
However, another Indigenous researcher Hannah McGlade also defended Mr Albanese.
“For people who are supposedly pro-Aboriginal to be condemning an international sporting figure’s expression of solidarity with us is very convoluted,” she told The Australian.
She also criticised Indigenous MPs Jacinta Price and Lidia Thorpe for not supporting the meeting.
“The fact some Aboriginal women are involved in this is a really sad reflection on the state of Aboriginal leadership in Australia today,” she said.
Dr McGlade said there were similarities between the US Black Lives Matter movement and Indigenous Australia.
The voice would advise the Australian parliament and government on matters relating to the social, spiritual and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.