Australian novelist Richard Flanagan says the Turnbull government wrote itself out of history and wasted a chance at reconciliation when it rejected last year's Uluru Statement which recommended giving Aboriginal people a voice in parliament.
Flanagan, one of Australia's most celebrated authors and winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize, attacked the government as having "dessicated souls" in a speech at the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land on Saturday night.
"It was a great achievement of our democracy, those who from the beginning of our nation would now for the first time of which I am aware accept the sovereignty of the Commonwealth in return for recognition of their sovereignty within that Commonwealth," Flanagan said.
"The Uluru Statement was a historic moment for our nation, by refusing it the Turnbull government chose to write itself out of history.
"Perhaps they knew themselves it was a stake beyond their dessicated souls."
Last year Mr Turnbull rejected the Referendum Council's proposal for an indigenous voice in parliament saying it was light on detail about its powers and undemocratic.
Supporters of the proposal rejected this and said Mr Turnbull had humiliated a generation of great indigenous leaders and "laid fertile grounds for proponents of extremism and violence to preach to the next generation of black leaders who rightly think Australian democracy is a sham that excludes them".
Mr Flanagan said most Australians didn't know about and would be horrified at the full extent of massacres and "wars of extermination" that had never ended for Aboriginal people to this day.
"My warning is this: if we here in Australia do not re-imagine ourselves we will be undone," he said.
"We should aspire as a nation to the hard-won knowledge that a war that began over 200 years ago can now be ended."
Djawa Yunupingu, a leader of the Arnhem Gumatj clan that hosts Garma, said Australia had nothing to fear from Aboriginal sovereignty, which would be welcoming and "not take from others - it does not exclude or steal".
"When you think about these issues yourself, try and think about my Aboriginal and Islander brothers and sisters who have had so much taken from them," he said.
"Please think about those people who for no fault of their own, but by the hands of the nation that has been built on their soil, find themselves without land, without language and without ceremony.
"So how long do we have to wait to get this right?
Another Committee? Another Hearing? Another Meeting?"
Australian Associated Press