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Nationals under fire over voice decision

As the Nationals signal they won’t be supporting the referendum for an Indigenous voice, groups and MPs are pushing back saying the decision is premature.

November 29, 2022
By Paul Osborne
29 November 2022

Supporters of an Indigenous voice say a move by the Nationals to oppose a referendum will only make them fight harder for the constitutional change.

Nationals leader David Littleproud has declared the party will not back a proposal to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament.

The government has been calling for a referendum during this term of parliament to set up an Indigenous voice – one of the recommendations from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Mr Littleproud says the government should instead be focused on empowering local Indigenous communities and taking practical action to close the wellbeing gap.

Indigenous coalition senator Jacinta Price said a voice to parliament would create more division.

“Why should I as an Indigenous Australian be governed under a separate entity than the rest of Australia because of my race?” she said.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said better policies would be developed when Indigenous people were listened to.

Geoffrey Scott, spokesman for the Uluru Dialogues, said the Nationals’ announcement “will only make us work harder”.

“We will continue talking with all Australians including supporters of the Nationals,” he said.

“By deciding to do this before a referendum date has even been set, or the detail has been released, it’s clear that the Nationals have put internal politics ahead of the interests of First Nations peoples.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the coalition parties risked further alienation from younger voters through their policies, including opposing a voice and continually criticising action on climate change.

The Albanese government will release the latest Closing the Gap report on Wednesday, outlining how work on improving Indigenous wellbeing is progressing.

A Productivity Commission report released in July found five targets were not on course including: children being developmentally on track when they commence school, out-of-home care rates, adult imprisonment, deaths by suicide and sea country rights and interests.

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