Uluru Statement a 'Declaration of War': Leading No Campaigner

Warren Mundine said no country has overcome past conflicts and injustices better than Australia.
Uluru Statement a 'Declaration of War': Leading No Campaigner
Warren Mundine speaks during the WA Liberals for No Campaign Launch in Perth, Sunday, August 20, 2023. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
Rebecca Zhu

Leading "No" campaigner Warren Mundine has called the Uluru Statement from the Heart a “symbolic declaration of war against modern Australia.”

In a speech to the National Press Club on Sept. 26, Mr. Mundine criticised the Uluru Statement for depicting Indigenous Australians as trapped under oppression.

“This is a lie,” he said, arguing that no country has overcome past conflicts and injustices better than Australia.

“No nation in the world had a perfect beginning. Most have bloody and brutal beginnings founded in invasion, conquest, revolution, or war,” he said.

“We have taken the best of our history and built a nation where everyone is equal, where any person, regardless of their origin, can aspire and achieve the highest.”

Mr. Mundine criticised the rhetoric of the Uluru Statement and The Voice, saying it would reintroduce racial segregation back into Australia.

“We described the Uluru Statement as a symbolic declaration of war against modern Australia,” he said.

“The canvas is a glossy marketing brochure for the misappropriation of culture, a misrepresentation of history, and for a radical and divisive vision of Australia—all done in the name of Indigenous Australians but working against us.”

On Oct. 14, Australians will go to the polls to vote on an amendment to the Constitution to change the preamble to recognise Indigenous people and to set up an advisory body to Parliament to make "representations" on issues deemed relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The Uluru Statement's Real Intent Uncovered?

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the result of years of dialogues between governments and Indigenous elders and is the main document behind the push for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.
A Freedom of Information document published by the National Indigenous Australians Agency revealed the Statement could be much longer than indicated with another 25 pages of background information and regional dialogue unearthed.

In a section titled “Our Story,” it said Indigenous communities have struggled through “relentless inhumanity” after Aboriginal communities were “ruptured by colonisation.”

Mr. Mundine described the document as a manifesto “steeped in grievance” and that it “couldn’t be further from the idea of reconciliation.”

“It sees Indigenous Australians as trapped in victimhood and oppression not free are able to make their own decisions,” he said.

He said The Voice was built on lies and would just add another layer of bureaucracy in Canberra, without providing any real difference to Indigenous communities on the ground.

“The fact is that most Indigenous Australians are doing fine,” he said.

“They go to school, go to work, run businesses, take care of their families, and they are not in prison.”

Learn From the Past and Move On

The No campaigner called on the Indigenous community to acknowledge past atrocities while learning to move forward without being shackled down by history.

“Indigenous people also need to forgive Australia as a nation. Many Aboriginals feel angry about past wrongdoings but these events cannot be undone,” Mr. Mundine said.

“We have a choice to continue to feel aggrieved or to draw a line in history and not be captive to that past. Always remember, never forget the history. Learn from it but move forward.”

Mr. Mundine has been a long-time advocate of personal accountability and finding individual success through education and economic participation.

“I saw this with my parents and grandparents who were determined to own their own home and to ensure that their kids got educated and into employment,” he said.

“I don’t know of any group of people in the world that has lifted out of poverty without economic participation.

“If every Indigenous child went to school, and every Indigenous adult went to work, there would be no gap.”

He noted there was no gap between educated Australians of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds.

“Just imagine if every Indigenous child went to school every day. Think about what a profound impact that would have,” he said.

Critic Says Mundine Being Inflammatory

Co-chair of the Uluru Dialogue and one of the architects of Uluru Statement from the Heart, Professor Megan Davis, said Mr. Mundine’s description of the Statement as a declaration of war was “disappointing and really inflammatory.”

“We as the Uluru Dialogues have found this Press Club speech to be really disappointing and really inflammatory,” Ms. Davis told ABC News.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart was an expression of peace and love to the Australian people. It's about belonging and unifying the nation.

“I find it really repugnant, the notion that it could be associated at all with the language of the declaration of war.”

Ms. Davis said the Uluru Statement was about coming together as a nation.

“Here we are, three weeks before people head to the ballot box, where we're asking Australians to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. That's what the Uluru Statement says,” she said.