The conservative commentator and Sky News host Chris Kenny is among those chosen to design the process for an Indigenous voice to parliament, the Indigenous affairs minister has revealed.
Kenny is one of 19 advisers appointed to the co-design group, which aims to develop options to fulfil a core part of the Uluru statement from the heart: to allow Indigenous people a voice in policies and legislation which directly affect them.
Ken Wyatt has already confirmed he would not pursue a key demand from the Uluru statement – that the voice be constitutionally enshrined – warning supporters they need to be “pragmatic” about what can be achieved. Instead he has said he would work towards legislating the voice to ensure the planned constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples referendum was successful.
In announcing the co-design group, Wyatt said it would be asked to “develop options for an Indigenous voice to government”, with Indigenous leaders, Prof Tom Calma and Prof Dr Marcia Langton leading the process.
Kenny had previously criticised Langton as being “aggressive” towards “perceived ideological enemies”, leading to the burning of “goodwill faster than others can create it” in a comment piece published in the Australian, which was broadly in favour of a “practical” solution to the voice to parliament proposal.
“The most likely avenue for compromise now is for [the prime minister, Scott] Morrison to prevail, as hinted at in Wyatt’s speech, and have a voice formalised through legislation but not mandated in the constitution,” Kenny wrote in July.
“This will disappoint many Indigenous people but might fly.”
Kenny is a surprise inclusion in the group, which also includes Fr Frank Brennan, Mick Gooda, Noel Pearson, Josephine Cashman, Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Alison Page.
Prof Peter Buckskin, Marcia Ella-Duncan, Joanne Farrell, Vonda Malone, June Oscar, Benson Saulo, Pat Turner, Prof Maggie Walter, Tony Wurramarrba and Peter Yu round out the group.
“The best outcomes are achieved when Indigenous Australians are at the centre of decision-making,” Wyatt said. “We know that for too long, decision-making treated the symptoms rather than the cause.”
The group’s main role will be to offer suggestions on how Indigenous Australians “are heard at all levels of government” and have been asked to form a national co-design group, as well as a local and regional co-design group to help the process.
Both Calma and Langton support constitutionally enshrining the voice to parliament, but have said they are willing to work with the process to see what can be achieved.
“I would like to get the opportunity to establish the bodies and the process and look at all the models and how they might work, and then at a future time look at – and this is the government’s role – to look at constitutional enshrinement or whatever,” Calma told the Guardian late last month.