Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney has blasted incendiary claims British colonisation had no lasting negative impacts on Aboriginal people.
Coalition senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price made the controversial comments during a provocative National Press Club speech outlining her opposition to an Indigenous voice.
Ms Burney said she was shocked by the remarks, describing them as "simply wrong".
"They are offensive and a real betrayal to the many families that have experienced things like the stolen generations," the minister said.
Historian Henry Reynolds said Senator Price's statements were far from the truth.
"It clearly flies in the face of a whole generation of history that has told us a totally different story," he said.
He described colonisation as one of the greatest land grabs in human history and the beginning of a catastrophe.
Jason Agostino, a medical adviser for the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, reflected on the impacts of colonisation during a parliamentary inquiry on Friday.
"The root of the high prevalence of type two diabetes lies in the impacts of colonisation, coupled with socio-economic disadvantage," he said.
"Too many people still do not have access to safe drinking water from the tap to affordable healthy food options or to a home with appropriate refrigeration."
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton backed Senator Price, despite her failure to endorse a coalition policy of local and regional Indigenous voices.
Mr Dutton said people should listen to her and not the "capital city views" of others, saying her comments were drawn from experience living in Alice Springs.
"She was brave, prepared to stand up for what she believes in, and believes passionately about making a better society for Indigenous Australians," he told Nine's Today Show.
During the interview, Mr Dutton backtracked on his previous calls for a second referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous people, should the upcoming vote fail.
Cabinet minister Murray Watt said Mr Dutton was "so addicted to saying 'no' he was now saying 'no' to his own idea".
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie said a referendum on constitutional recognition had been coalition policy for more than a decade.
"I do believe it is time to recognise our first Australians as a statement of fact in our founding document," she said.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart, an invitation from a group of First Nations people to non-Indigenous Australians, called for a voice to parliament rather than symbolic recognition in the constitution.