'Bedwetter': Indigenous leader's low blow over voice

·2-min read
Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

Aboriginal activist and community leader Noel Pearson has launched a personal attack against another Indigenous voice campaigner for raising fears the referendum could fail.

Mr Pearson labelled former social justice commissioner Mick Gooda a "bedwetter" who had done little for Indigenous people and dismissed "foolish" suggestions a compromise should be reached on the scope of the voice.

"He's wetting the bed far too early in the day," he told the ABC.

"This early bedwetting just when we're yet to start the campaign proper is not right, he does not represent Indigenous people in the position he's taken."

Mr Gooda on Thursday called to remove mention to executive government from the proposal, after polling showed support for a "yes" vote slipping to 53 per cent.

"I've decided to speak out, and I'm sure I will be criticised because I'm beginning to be terrified we're going to lose this," he said.

But Mr Pearson said removing executive government from the advisory body's remit would not boost support for the voice.

"This executive issue is not a serious issue."

He laid into Mr Gooda for making suggestions at this "late hour" after the Albanese government had consulted with Indigenous leaders.

"Mick Gooda's entire career was in the bureaucracy … it's people like him who need to hear the voices of Aboriginal people on the ground," Mr Pearson said.

In the lengthy and heated radio interview, he accused Mr Gooda of failing to separate compromise from capitulation.

"The day that we allow someone like him to be the arbiter of the position of Indigenous people in negotiation with parliament and the government, is the day we give the whole game away," Mr Pearson said.

He has previously referred to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton as Judas and attacked Indigenous coalition senator Jacinta Price over her opposition to the voice.

Mr Dutton said Mr Pearson went overboard in his comments and called for more respectful debate from all involved.

"(Mick Gooda) is a person with a big heart, an enormous heart, a very decent man and I don't think he deserved the assessment that was given of him this morning," he said.

"Noel is a wonderful Australian, he's a colourful character. But by his own admission he has a pretty sharp tongue."

Mr Gooda has been contacted for comment.