Nationals Leader David Littleproud has urged voters in urban areas to listen to his party’s views on the Voice, saying the problems it aims to fix fall “invariably in our electorates” and that members had a “lived experience” of the consequences of past failures.
Speaking to Sky News Australia, Mr Littleproud said the Nationals would “help print the ballots” if the upcoming referendum was purely on Constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, but the proposed Voice was instead adding “another layer of bureaucracy” which would do little to fix the problems in struggling communities.
“We didn’t support the Voice on two clear principles,” he told host Kieran Gilbert on Sunday.
“The first one was that it was simply going to add another layer of bureaucracy. We’ve got lived experience out here of the last time we did that, it was called ATSIC, and we’ve lived with those consequences.
“We’ve got over a thousand Indigenous representative bodies now and adding another layer it will not help.”
The second principle, Mr Littleproud said, was the Nationals’ belief that all Australians were equal and all had an equal voice through the system of elected representatives.
“Proudly our nation has elected 11 Indigenous Australians,” he said.
“But they’re not there just to represent Indigenous Australians, they’re there to represent all Australians.
“If this was just about Constitutional recognition, if this was a statement of fact that Indigenous Australians were here first, that we’ve made some mistakes, that we’re better having been together, but we’ll be better sticking together, then I sense the Nationals would help print the ballot papers.”
Mr Littleproud said he hoped Prime Minister Anthony Albanese would take the “opportunity to lead” and separate the referendum into two components, one on Constitutional recognition and one on a proposed Voice, suggesting his party would “sign up” to such a move.
He also urged Mr Albanese to release the full legal guidance, including documents presented to cabinet, to “bring Australians into his trust” and answer lingering questions on how the Voice would function in practice.
The Nationals leader also had a plea for urban voters, saying he and his colleagues “do have something to contribute” despite acknowledging they’re not everyone’s “cup of tea.”
“We have lived experience, because we live there,” he said.
“Many Australians haven’t stepped foot outside a capital city, but we actually see the consequences of what we did last time and we don’t want to repeat those mistakes.
“There is a pathway forward and we should have an ambitious goal of saying we will close the gap by 2030 or 2035, because we know where it is and it’s invariably in our electorates.
“All we are doing, is putting effectively into perpetuity a bureaucracy saying we’ve given up on closing the gap.”
News Source: www.skynews.com.au