When Queensland Liberal National Party (QLNP) state opposition leader David Crisafulli supported the Labor government’s Path To Treaty 2023 legislation it did not pleasantly surprise all. Among the party’s federal cohort, Crisafulli’s decision was seen as undermining opposition leader Peter Dutton’s national campaign against the First Nations Voice referendum – the process to give constitutional recognition to Australia’s Indigenous people and enshrine a formal process for them to engage with parliament.
The special May sitting of the Queensland parliament in Cairns saw a formal bipartisanship for establishing the First Nations Treaty Institute with an inquiry for truth-telling and healing. Guugu Yimithirr elder Fred Deeral gifted a broken-tipped spear to the assembly as a symbol of the brokering of peace – Queensland begins historic ‘Path to Treaty’ after bill passes in regional parliament in Cairns.
It seemed Queensland finally had a united front on its historically poor policy response to its Indigenous people but by May’s end Crisafulli had stepped back from the leadership he’d shown. In November 2022, he’d been challenged in parliament by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to support the Voice but had squibbed it – Queensland LNP ducks state vote on Indigenous Voice.
Now he fell into line with his federal party colleagues, OL Dutton and Nationals leader David Littleproud, in opposing it. He also announced he would not take part in any referendum campaigning but would leave his state colleagues to make their own decision.
The friction within the party spilled out at the QLNP state conference in Brisbane last month. Sarah Elks was covering the event for The Australian writing,
“Federal Coalition politicians have told The Australian they were angry their state counterparts backed the legislation, believing it undermined Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s campaign against the Indigenous voice to parliament.” – LNP split over Queensland Indigenous Path to Treaty laws.
“We’ve never been at war with Indigenous Australians,” the overtly anti-Voice LIttleproud told the congress – Littleproud claims country ‘never at war’ with Indigenous Australians, rebuffs treaty position.
Eden Gillespie was also covering the event for The Guardian. She noted that during a general motion to support the state QLNP, an objector complained about Crisafulli’s treaty support and the return of Fraser Island to its traditional name of K’gari (gurri). The discussion was quickly closed in favour of a secret meeting away from the media.
K’gari had become another ragepoint in Queensland in June when the world heritage island’s name was officially transitioned. Some sections of the media inferred this to be a sudden decision of Premier Palaszczuk, running polls alongside the announcement.
However, the process had been a long one over many decades for the Butchulla people. The Queensland Department of Resources launched a survey calling for the public’s feedback on the name change in August 2022. More than six thousand submissions were received, with seventy percent in favour of restoring the name – World Heritage Fraser Island officially restored to Indigenous name, K’gari, supported by public.
After the QLNP state conference had concluded, writing for The Guardian, Professor Julianne Schultz commented,
“When David Crisafulli spoke in support of Queensland’s path to treaty in early May, the Liberal National party parliamentary leader described it as a “fork in the road”. It was time, he declared, to “tell it like it is”, confront the truth of the past, the inequity of the present and accept accountability. It was an opportunity “Queenslanders should embrace wholeheartedly”. This was a group hug the four One Nation and Katter party members of parliament refused to join. Old Queensland was seething.” – The voice has revived the politics of old Queensland – and it’s not yet ready to concede.
Old Queensland is indeed unwilling to relinquish it’s colonial establishments. Federal QLNP MP for Capricornia Michelle Landry raised eyebrows in March when she outlined her opposition to the Voice, declaring Indigenous people were well represented and needed “something to get them out of bed in the morning.” – Michelle Landry on why she will be voting against the Voice.
Last week, the QLNP’s situation came full circle in the federal environment with OL Dutton accusing Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of being tricky with the Voice referendum and treaty process. PM Albanese responded with a quote from Crisafulli’s May support for Queensland’s Path To Treaty.
“I rise to support the Path To Treaty Bill 2023. Path To Treaty is a genuine opportunity for our state to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.”
It’s not known what was said in the QLNP’s secret meeting at the state conference but a report from last week does give clues. Today on Insiders, ABC’s Dan Bourchier discussed the Coalition’s plan to wreck the referendum. They only see it as a political chance to ‘inflict a political loss’ on PM Albanese in order to help them return to government in 2025.
A plan that has its roots in old Queensland.
More on the Uluru Statement which contains information on the Voice to Parliament, Truth and Treaty
More on the K’gari story
Unleash the natural forces of K’gari to destroy one of Australia’s first fake news stories and return Fraser Island to its rightful name – K’gari Interactive Documentary