Politics

Scott Morrison rules out referendum on Indigenous Voice if re-elected


When Morrison was asked in April about whether he would progress with the Uluru Statement, he said: “That is not our policy either. Our policy is to build up a Voice from the ground up and that is the process that we have been going through with [Calma and Langton] and that is being heard by the minister for Indigenous Australians.”

But Parkin said there was “no option for Indigenous constitutional recognition other than a Voice to parliament”.

“It is the government’s longstanding policy for a referendum on Indigenous constitutional recognition. The Uluru Statement from the Heart settled [what that would look like] definitively,” he said. “At a time when people are looking to political leaders to deliver upon their promises, we think there’s a very strong case that there should be a commitment to a referendum in 2023.”

If a referendum were held, it would be the first since Australia decided against becoming a republic in 1999.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese committed to enshrining a Voice to parliament in the Constitution during Labor’s campaign launch in Western Australia on Sunday but did not give a timeframe.

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“I am proud to promise our Labor government will work with First Nations people to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full,” Albanese said.

“This will be an uplifting moment of healing and unity for our country, in the same spirit as the national apology to the Stolen Generations, delivered by prime minister Kevin Rudd.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt last month signalled his party’s preference for Truth and Treaty – two other components of the Uluru Statement – to come before a Voice to parliament.

“If we do it the other way around, then we set up for the terrible prospect that [the Voice referendum] may not succeed,” he told the ABC Insiders program on Sunday.

But he said the Greens would not block action on the Voice if it came first. “We’re not going to stand in the way of any genuine reforms, including [a Voice to parliament],” he said.

The campaign’s preferred date for a referendum would fall on Saturday, May 27 2023: the 56th anniversary of the 1967 referendum that amended the Constitution by allowing the government to make laws for Indigenous people and include them in the census.

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