Tuesday, 29 November 2022

The Federal Nationals have confirmed we oppose Labor’s proposal to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution.

The Federal Nationals recognise the immense challenges impacting many Indigenous communities, including unemployment, housing, domestic and family violence, healthcare, substance abuse, child safety, and education.

The Nationals have consulted widely with the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns in a respectful and genuine way but we have formed the view that ‘the Voice’ will not advance the primary aim of Closing the Gap and dealing with the real issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in regional Australia.

We believe in protecting communities and families and we believe in economic development – solutions that will economically empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As one Indigenous leader said to me: “Not everyone up here wants to be a ranger.”

I have spoken to many Indigenous people in Northern communities and they would rather see more economic development to give people a chance at real jobs that provide purpose and meaning, both on country and off welfare.

The Nationals believe it is essential that we take a sensible, considered, serious and orthodox approach to what is being proposed, by examining the available detail.

However, we are concerned about Labor’s lack of detail, potential High Court implications and vague wording surrounding the responsibilities of the Voice.

The Voice will add another layer of bureaucratic red tape and create jobs in Canberra but not in Alice Springs, Aurukun or Halls Creek.

The Nationals support immediate frontline action to address issues impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and we believe the Voice devalues the 11 elected Indigenous MPs, including Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.

A core component that underpins our free, liberal democratic society in Australia is the fundamental principle that every citizen is considered equal under the law.

A constitutionally enshrined advisory body to Parliament based solely on a person’s race is the antithesis of the values that we share, as a National Party.

Through considered consultation, the Nationals – as representatives of rural, regional and remote Australia – have come to this decision. We will continue to work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in regional Australia, helping them improve the lives of those who need it.