Noel Pearson had a testy exchange of views on ABC's Q&A program on Monday night. Program host Patricia Karvelas is pictured

Yes campaigner Noel Pearson argues being Indigenous ISN’T a race and Voice would still be needed even if there was no longer Indigenous disadvantage

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Noel Pearson, a leading advocate for a Yes vote in the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum, has said that being Indigenous is not a race.

Mr Pearson had a testy exchange of views on ABC’s Q&A program on the issue on Monday night with conservative and No vote advocate Wesley Aird.

The two prominent Aboriginal men also clashed over whether or not a Voice would be needed even if there was no longer any Indigenous disadvantage. 

‘What the Voice is going to do is (to) lock disadvantage into the constitution in perpetuity. And I really struggle with that, as an Indigenous person,’ Mr Aird said.

‘I think it would make more sense to fund need over race and I think there are other ways to value (people).’

Noel Pearson had a testy exchange of views on ABC's Q&A program on Monday night. Program host Patricia Karvelas is pictured

Noel Pearson had a testy exchange of views on ABC's Q&A program on Monday night. Program host Patricia Karvelas is pictured

Noel Pearson had a testy exchange of views on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night. Program host Patricia Karvelas is pictured

Q&A host Patricia Karvelas jumped on that comment and put it to Mr Aird, who is a director of Indigenous training and previously advised John Howard, that being ‘Indigenous isn’t a race.’

A confused Mr Aird asked ‘How is it not?’, before Mr Pearson answered that ‘It’s people who pre-existed colonisation. 

READ MORE: Nathan Cleary backs Indigenous Voice

‘There are blond and blue-eyed people in the Arctic Circle.’

‘We’re not in the Arctic Circle,’ Mr Aird said.

But Mr Pearson said ‘It doesn’t matter. It’s a question as to whether there were peoples who pre-existed colonisation by the British. 

‘They were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and (the Voice) is a recognition of that historical truth,’ he said.

Mr Aird replied that ‘OK, so the races we’re talking about are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.’

Mr Pearson then expanded on his point, saying ‘Recognition is not just about disadvantage, it’s about our languages, our culture, our history, recognition of our art, of all of the good things we can contribute to the country.

‘It’s not just about disadvantage. I hope the day comes very quickly when we’re over our disadvantage.’

Mr Aird then asked ‘So we won’t need a Voice then?’ 

An annoyed Mr Pearson said ‘Why would we not? We’ve got lots to contribute to the country of as a positive.’

MrPearson said 'It's a question as to whether there were peoples who pre-existed colonisation by the British'

MrPearson said 'It's a question as to whether there were peoples who pre-existed colonisation by the British'

MrPearson said ‘It’s a question as to whether there were peoples who pre-existed colonisation by the British’

But Mr Aird shot back that Indigenous people already do that, saying: ‘We are very much a part of our national fabric.’

The leading Yes campaigner retorted that The Voice succeeding in the referendum on October 14 would be ‘a massive opportunity for the country’. 

‘I hope the day comes when we actually are out of our disadvantage and our culture is a real contribution to the rest of the nation. 

‘We will still be Indigenous people then, though,’ Mr Pearson said. 

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