Posted on April 6, 2023

Australian Opposition Against Indigenous Voice in Parliament

Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, April 5, 2023

Australia’s main opposition party on Wednesday decided to oppose the government’s model for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people in a development that appears to doom the prospects of a successful referendum this year.

A referendum has not succeeded in changing Australia’s Constitution since 1977, and bipartisan support of the major political parties is widely regarded as a prerequisite for success.

But lawmakers in the conservative Liberal Party, the second largest after the ruling center-left Labor Party, said they’ll oppose the government’s proposal to create a so-called Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The Voice would be an elected group charged with advocating Indigenous interests to Parliament, but would not have a vote on laws.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said his lawmakers would prefer Indigenous people were represented by regional and local “Voices” rather than one in the national capital {snip}

Senior Liberal lawmakers would campaign for a “no” vote when Australians are expected to decide at a referendum whether to enshrine the Voice in the constitution sometime between October and December, Dutton said.

“Creating another national body out of Canberra as the prime minister is proposing divides our country, it doesn’t unite, and it will not deliver the outcomes on the ground,” Dutton told reporters.


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Liberal Party’s stance made the constitutional change more difficult to achieve.


“{snip} It’s about Australia, how we see ourselves, whether we give respect and recognise the fact we share this great island continent of ours with the oldest continuing culture on Earth and whether we have a process where we listen — we give a voice to — Indigenous Australians,” Albanese added.


The Nationals party, which was the Liberals’ junior partner in the last coalition government, announced in November last year that their lawmakers opposed the Voice for reasons including that it would divide the Australian population along racial lines.

A poll published in The Australian newspaper on Wednesday found that 54% of respondents supported the Voice proposition and 38% opposed it. {snip}

Many suggest public support needs to be higher for the constitution to change.