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14 Oct 2023

Fleurieu's federal leaders share Voice to Parliament opinions │The Fleurieu Sun

There has been so much dialogue on the upcoming Voice referendum, which will occur on October 14.

Our letters to the editor and community feedback has been mixed and the topic has divided Australia.

The Fleurieu Sun has asked our Federal leaders whether they support or not support the Voice to Parliament.

Below, you will find responses from Senator Andrew McLachlan, Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, Senator Penny Wong, and Senator Barbara Pocock.

Question - Why should Australia vote Yes or No?

Answer - I support the Liberal Party’s position on the Voice. This position is that enshrining the proposed Voice into our Constitution would be legally risky, divisive and ineffective. Details on how this top-down voice would operate remain unclear and Labor have not explained how the Voice would in any way resolve issues Indigenous communities are experiencing. Legal experts are not in agreeance as to how Labor’s Voice would be interpreted by any High Court once enshrined in our Nation’s Constitution, leaving it open to ongoing legal challenge. The Voice would have unlimited scope to influence executive Government, risking significant delays to Government decision making and the legislative process. The Liberal Party is fully supportive of the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and favours the creation of local and regional voice bodies that would be better placed to advise Parliament. Unfortunately, Labor have refused to negotiate on these positions.

Question - Have you spoken to Indigenous people on the Fleurieu and what was the feedback from them?

Answer - I have come to my position on the Voice following many conversations with my good friend and colleague Senator Kerrynne Liddle. Senator Liddle and I spent a significant amount of time visiting remote Indigenous communities in South Australia and the Northern Territory and engaging directly with Traditional Owners. I value Senator Liddle’s counsel on this issue and it was made clear to us on the ground that the Voice was not a priority, nor was it something that had broad support. Traditional Owners told us that they want practical solutions to support their communities, not more bureaucracy.

Question - If the Yes vote is successful who will make up the Voice and when will it be determined?

Answer - Labor have not outlined how the Voice would operate. We could expect to see representatives from each State and Territory. How these representatives would be selected remains unclear.

Question - How much will it cost to be implemented?

Answer - The referendum itself will cost Australian taxpayers up to $450 million. This is money that could have been spent to directly support Indigenous communities. It remains completely unclear how much the Voice would cost if established. In 2023-24 the Labor Government allocated $4.3 billion for the National Australians Agency, which has over 1400 staff. Their role is to advise Government on improving the lives of Indigenous Australians. The Voice would seemingly replicate this agency and it remains unclear as to how the two bodies would interact.

Question - If Yes is successful, what role would current Indigenous groups play?

Answer - Again, this is an issue that remains unclear. Labor have not outlined how existing Indigenous groups would interact with the Voice, or in the case of disputes, which body would have primacy.

Question - Has the referendum divided Australia and if so, how can we repair this division?

Answer - Senator Liddle has publicly spoken about the impacts of the “divisive nature” of this referendum on Australians. I remain hopeful that Australians will continue to have a respectful public discussion and after the vote come together to work as one to make our nation a fantastic place to live for all.

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