The Prime Minister has finally revealed what the Australian people will be asked in the referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament but there are still significant unanswered questions, Member for Mallee Anne Webster says.
“The Prime Minister has made the announcement, but we are yet to see any detail that explains how enshrining an Indigenous Voice To Parliament in the Constitution will address the challenges faced by vulnerable Indigenous communities across Australia in practical terms,” Dr Webster said.
“For all the Prime Minister’s motherhood statements, how will the Voice have a practical impact on the serious disadvantage some Indigenous people experience? The last thing Australia needs is another bureaucratic body. What we need are real measures to Close The Gap and practical solutions for the communities that are crying out for change – not more talkfests.”
The proposed changes to the Australian Constitution state that the Voice may make representations to the Parliament and Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Constitutional lawyers are rightly concerned this amendment to the founding document of our democracy will see one race entitled to halt bureaucratic processes and appeal to the High Court if they do not believe their views have been considered by the executive government or public service,” Dr Webster said.
“Every Member or Senator has been democratically elected to be a voice for their community, including the 11 Indigenous Senators and Members currently serving in the Parliament. Establishing another voice for one group based on race is counter to national unity and integrity.
“The Voice proposal as it stands has not detailed how representatives will be elected and on what basis. Indigenous people are not an homogeneous group and their needs and perspectives are not identical.
“That is why many Indigenous people are not supportive of the Voice. I believe the Voice risks dividing us by race, and that is not how I understand what it is to be Australian. The Voice risks this by giving precedence to one race.”
Dr Webster said there needed to be clear, practical measures to address transgenerational disadvantage in Australia as a whole.
“It is my firm belief that we are one people and one country. The proposed Voice undermines this unity. We are all Australian, recognised under the Constitution,” she said.
“I will be voting no, however I also recognise that this is a referendum that will be decided by the people of Australia. I urge people to think about their vote when it comes time to cast it.”