Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, yesterday promised to work towards holding a referendum for Indigenous recognition “during the current parliamentary term”, but met immediate resistance in Coalition ranks. Wyatt, who is Indigenous, made the pledge in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra, before qualifying that he would not put forward a referendum if he did not believe it would succeed. The proposal was cautiously welcomed by the Labor opposition and a range of indigenous and business leaders, but was greeted with scepticism in Wyatt’s own party over what form recognition would take. Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson was one of a number of Coalition politicians to express reservations to the media, telling Nine: “I will carefully consider any formal proposal for constitutional recognition, but any change that threatens our successful parliamentary system or one which treats Australians differently based on their race would be a backward step.”
Papua New Guinean prime minister James Marape has pledged that the perpetrators of an inter-tribal massacre of 16 people on Monday would face the death penalty. Children and two pregnant women were among the victims of the violence, with health workers describing bodies “chopped to pieces” in what is believed to be a revenge attack for an incident that left six dead on Saturday. In a statement on his Facebook page, Marape said the day was one of the saddest of his life, with “many children and mothers innocently murdered in Munima and Karida villages of my electorate by Haguai, Liwi and OKiru gunmen”.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme has been accused of denying Australians access to support because as patients they refused invasive surgery or psychiatric drugs. Disability Services Consulting advocate Sara Gingold told The Guardian Australia that claimants were rejected despite having “reasonable” reasons to decline treatment. Cases that were refused include people who said they could not afford bariatric surgery or to see a psychiatrist. The Department of Social Services said in a statement that the rules “ensure the NDIS only funds reasonable and necessary supports for people with a permanent disability”. The accusations come after NDIS delays were blamed for shortening the life expectancy of 10-year-old Ballina schoolgirl Josephine Boyd, who suffers from axonal neuropathy.
In rugby league, the State of Origin series went down to the wire, with a last-minute James Tedesco try securing New South Wales a 26-20 win in the deciding third game. After a second-half Queensland fightback left scores deadlocked in the final moments, Tedesco crossed in the corner after a break down the right from Blake Ferguson. In cricket, Australia tonight faces off against host nation England for the right to play New Zealand in the men’s World Cup final, after the Black Caps stunned India in their close fought semi-final matchup, batting first for 8-239 in a rain-delayed game spread over two days, before bowling the tournament favourite out in the last over to win by 18 runs.