An Indigenous voice to parliament would bring people together, not divide the nation and save taxpayers money, the Prime Minister says.
There was a lot of misinformation about what the voice would do and what it would cost, Anthony Albanese has stated.
“This will actually save money,” he told Brisbane radio station B105.
“What you’ll get if we listen to people is more efficiency. You’ll get the dollars going to where they should go.
“This is about helping a group of Australians – three percent of Australians. It won’t have a direct impact at all on non-Indigenous Australians directly.”
Asked by a listener whether creating a specific body for Indigenous Australians in the Constitution would divide the nation, Mr Albanese replied that it would not.
“The idea of this is to work together to bring the country together,” he told the caller.
“If it comes up with a good idea, then governments should adopt it … when we listen to people who are directly affected by an issue, we get better outcomes.”
But Opposition Leader Peter Dutton continues to argue the voice proposal lacks detail and that people who want to help Indigenous Australians will be forced to vote ‘no’ if their questions go unanswered.
“It just makes people, I think, more reluctant – tradies and others who are saying, ‘I want to help Indigenous people but the Prime Minister is not putting the detail out there, so I don’t understand it. I am not voting for it’,” he told Nine’s Today program.
If the referendum is successful, the voice would be a permanent but non-binding advisory body that would be able to make representations to the parliament and the government.
Former High Court chief justice Robert French was booked to address the National Press Club on the voice last week.
Mr French has previously dismissed arguments a voice could be subject to multiple legal challenges, describing it as “constitutionally sound”.
He’s also labelled legal arguments around the voice as “a shadow which distracts from the substantive”, stating the High Court would likely consider the intent of the parliament when making any rulings.
“Put shortly, the voice provision provides for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, not as a race but as the First Peoples of Australia,” he told parliament earlier this year.
“That provides a significant shift away from the existing race-based legislative power that the Commonwealth has.”
But the argument doesn’t fly with Liberal Senator Kerrynne Liddle who says legal minds have differing views about the broadness of the wording.
“What was really clear from (a parliamentary committee) was that the risk seemed to be unquantifiable,” she told ABC TV.
The concerns were ignored by Labor who proceeded with the same wording anyway, the South Australian senator argued.
“It is not just the question that people are being asked, it is about the impact of the words on the Australian Constitution and by default, the Australian people,” she told ABC TV.
The voice referendum will be held on October 14.
- The question you will be asked is:
A proposed law to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?
- The ballot paper clearly lays out that you should write “yes” in the box if you approve of the proposed alteration, and “no” if you do not.
- If you’re an Australian citizen over the age of 18, it is compulsory to vote.
How to vote
Just like at a federal election, the Australian Electoral Commission will open thousands of polling places around the country. Polling places will be open between 8am and 6pm, local time, on voting day. You can cast your vote at any polling place in your state or territory. If you’ll be interstate on polling day, you will need to visit a designated interstate voting centre.