Meet Teela Reid: PM’s Voice architect fights to ‘abolish Australia Day’

“Abolish Australia Day”.

That’s the clear message of prominent Voice campaigner, Uluru Dialogue leader and member of Anthony Albanese’s Voice Referendum Engagement Group Teela Reid.

The PM named Reid – along with radical activist and militant unionist Thomas Mayo – as one of the “remarkable people” advising him on the Voice.

Reid is also a winner of the Marie Claire “Voice of Now” award at their 2022 Women of the Year awards. Afterwards she modelled for the fashion magazine.

She was part of the ABC’s controversial coronation panel with Stan Grant and argued that Australia needs a “reckoning”, claiming that reconciliation “is not enough” and “an excuse to pull the wool over our eyes”. Afterwards she criticised our nation on social media, saying that “racism is synonymous with Australia” and we are “a nation without a soul”.

Teela’s fight to abolish Australia Day

Reid, a frequent collaborator with Mayo, has been campaigning to abolish Australia Day since at least 2020.

On January 24, 2023 Reid demanded nothing less than completely cancelling our national day, declaring “changing the date is a cop out”.

In June this year, the day after Indigenous Australians minister Linda Burney told Parliament the Voice won’t try to change the date of Australia Day, Reid hit back on Twitter:

“It is truly disingenuous to be claiming mob won’t be demanding to #AbolishAustralia day. It started decades before the referendum, it’ll still be a demand after it.”

In April this year, when Linda Burney said claims the Voice campaign to abolish Australia Day were “nonsense” – only a month after Reid’s first meeting with the PM’s Referendum Engagement Group – Reid lashed the minister on Twitter:

“It really is disingenuous for an Indigenous Minister to pitch the potential limits of the Voice to try and make it more palatable. Aus Govs insistence to maintain #AustraliaDay really flies in the face of decades of Blak [sic] activism.”

Reid said attempts by the government to limit what the Voice could advocate for “is just stupid”:

“It might be the Australian Government ‘preference’ to keep things like Australia Day, but trying to limit  the scope of what the people can advocate for to change is just stupid.”

In January, 2021, Reid told the SMH that Australia Day should be abolished “until we have an honest national conversation about what it means to live in Australia, by telling the truth of our history”.

As far back as 2020, Reid has called for Australia Day to be abolished:

Teela on communism, ‘reparations and compensation’ and ‘demolishing the system’

Reid appeared alongside Thomas Mayo as guest speaker for the Search Foundation, which describes itself as the “successor organisation of the Communist Party of Australia”. At the seminar, which was held to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of Australia, she said:

“I think that what we need is to get back to these radical roots of the Communist Party.”

She went on to explain the purpose of the Voice:

“In all of the discussions around treaty it is absolutely critical that we get our nation to the point of enshrining a First Nations Voice. Voice is about ensuring that all the First Nations have a seat at the treaty table.”

In 2020, she told the Search Foundation, that the Voice is “the first step in redistributing power”:

“... if we're going to be pragmatic about moving forward in unity, about addressing unfinished business and about reckoning, that we have to understand, this concept of the Voice is the first step in redistributing power and enabling self-determination.”

In a speech posted on the Search Foundation’s Facebook page in February 2020, Reid said “First Nations want the power in their hands, that’s what the Voice is about” and “the Voice is a journey with all Australians to begin to demolish the systems that continue to oppress us”.

In March 2023, Teela told attendees at a Voice to Parliament forum held at Blackwood Uniting Church, “It’s going to be very difficult, once we succeed, for a government to ignore this Voice. It will be powerful.

Like Thomas Mayo, Teela Reid also calls for “reparations and compensation” to be paid to Indigenous Australians. In a May 2023 interview about the Voice to Parliament with the Ethics Centre, she said:

“You know that there does need to be reparations here, there does need to be compensation, there does need to be these tough, I think, decisions and reparations for what First Nations people have lost. That's undeniable.”

In 2020, she wrote in the Griffith Review that “the struggle for a First Nations Voice” is about the fight for “compensation and reparations”:

The struggle for a First Nations Voice has been 250 years coming, ever since Captain Cook landed uninvited in 1770. It is about the fight for land rights, water rights and the right to save our planet from the colonial structures that have attempted to destroy it. It is about the fight for peace and justice, compensation and reparations, the freedom to speak for country and control our own affairs. A constitutionally entrenched First Nations Voice is recognition that our sovereignty never was, never will be ceded.”