"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.”