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Prominent Indigenous Women Are Furious After Gary Johns Called Pregnant Black Women "Cash Cows"

Australian senator slams Johns over comments that poor black women are forced to have babies for cash.

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Australia's prominent Indigenous women are speaking up after former Queensland Labor MP Gary Johns described pregnant Indigenous women as "cash cows"

Senator Nova Peris (David Moir / AAPIMAGE)

Johns told The Bolt Report on Sunday that "a lot of poor women in this country, a large portion of whom are Aboriginal, are used as cash cows right, they are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash. Now that has to stop."

Labor senator Nova Peris, Australia's first Indigenous woman elected to federal parliament, told BuzzFeed News that Johns' comments were "disgraceful."

“I’m getting sick and tired of supposedly educated people making these insulting and degrading remarks about Aboriginal people."

“Mr Johns’ comments make the ridiculous assumption that Aboriginal women are stupid, can’t think for themselves and care more about welfare than their children," an outraged Senator Peris said.

"It’s disappointing that a former MP, who is feeling the pinch of irrelevance, can only get media attention by degrading Aboriginal women and mothers, and all women generally."

Johns made the comments during a discussion with Andrew Bolt over constitutional recognition for Indigenous people.

Gary Johns on the Bolt Report (Channel 10)

He was responding to statistics from a report by Aboriginal Housing Victoria, which showed that Indigenous women were 34 times more likely to suffer from domestic violence.

Furious viewers took to social media immediately after the show, slamming Johns for his views.

As an Aboriginsl woman, I'd like say to Gary Johns "MOO" If Aboriginal women are cows, Gary is the farmer sending us to slaughter #auspol

Gary Johns. No words. #Indigenous #auspol

Gary johns is a racist fool who wanted 15 minutes of fame & to trend on twitter & we've helped him - Let's trend #AboriginalMumsAreAmazing

Gary Johns has distorted this report to satisfy his racist urges: Health and welfare http://t.co/XKmIDQfkvH

Just caught up. This is just appalling. No place for such nasty racial stereotyping of Aboriginal people https://t.co/IiyHvfxBUn

And who is 'keeping' Aboriginal women as cash cows? Aboriginal men presumably. Another grotesque characterisation.

"His statements are an attempt to demonise the entire Aboriginal community," said another Indigenous politician.

(Paul Miller / AAPIMAGE)

New South Wales deputy opposition leader Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected to the NSW Parliament, branded the comments racist and said they demonise the entire community.

"Mr Johns is essentially reviving an archaic and extremely offensive racial caricature. Yes, his statements are an attempt to demonise the entire Aboriginal community and ought to be broadly condemned," she said.

“This statement is obviously outlandish, offensive and ill informed. But one of the first things you learn as an Aboriginal person in public life is not to waste your time responding to every offensive remark.”

Johns also took aim at prominent Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson, calling his push for involvement in the constitutional recognition campaign as fantasy.

Noel Pearson (Brian Cassey / AAPIMAGE)

"See if you can get yourself elected as a senator for Queensland with your black face," he said. "It's about time you were honest and got away from this little fantasy of you re-writing the Australian constitution."

Pearson was one of 40 Indigenous leaders handpicked by the federal government to discuss constitutional recognition last week in Sydney. Pearson is an advocate for a separate bill of rights for Australia's first nations people, as well as the formation of an Indigenous group that would advise the government on Indigenous issues.

Johns challenged Pearson to run for office, dismissing his efforts for constitutional change.

"Noel, put up. Run for the senate, see if you can get yourself elected as a senator for Queensland with your black face, because Australians don't care about your colour or your race or even your heritage."

"Whatever little box you want to sit in and be a big fella over, we will ignore that. We just want to listen to you and what you can do for an electorate."

Senator Peris, who is a co-chair on the joint select committee on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, says Johns is "deliberately muddying the waters around the very serious and important constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

“It’s not just about recognition, it’s also about substantive change. We are seeking to remove clauses that allow the government to pass discriminatory legislation against Aboriginal people. It’s a national shame that these clauses still exist.”

Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.

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