‘Urgency of this moment’: Albanese won’t back down on Voice to Parliament

The Prime Minister will start the official Voice campaign in Adelaide.

The Prime Minister will start the official Voice campaign in Adelaide. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will emphatically reject calls to delay, cancel or defer a referendum on the Voice in an impassioned speech to be delivered at the Garma Festival on Saturday.

Mr Albanese will stand firm that Australians will vote this year on whether to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the constitution.

“We will not deny the urgency of this moment. We will not kick the can down the road,” Mr Albanese will say, according to the ABC.

“We will not abandon substance for symbolism, or retreat to platitudes at the expense of progress.”

However Mr Albanese will not yet reveal a date for the referendum which will be held between October and December.

Mr Albanese will speak at the Garma Festival, a gathering of First Nations people in remote Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory’s far northeast.

As polls show public support for the Voice falling, Mr Albanese will stand firm “that there will be no delaying or deferring this referendum” because it was something that Indigenous people wanted.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been clear,” he will say.

“The form of constitutional recognition they are seeking is a Voice.

“Not our sympathy, not a symbol — a vehicle for progress, a practical tool to make their children’s lives better.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is attending the the Garma Festival in north-eastern Arnhem Land. Photo: AAP

Mr Albanese will say Australians have a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to bring “much-needed change” to the lives of First Nations people

“An eight-year gap in life ­expectancy, in the home of the fair go. A suicide rate twice as high, in the lucky country. Shocking rates of disease, in a ­nation with some of the world’s best healthcare. Only four out of 19 Closing the Gap targets on track,” he will say.

“Surely no leader can honestly say this is good enough. Surely no leader can pretend ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Surely no leader can imagine that change is not desperately and urgently needed.”

Mr Albanese will accuse the ‘No’ campaign of trying to blur the issues.

“With every passing day, it becomes more and more obvious that the no campaign are desperate to talk about anything but the actual question before the Australian people,” he will say.

“Because even they understand that more of the same is not just unacceptable, it is indefensible.”

While Mr Albanese will admit there is “no guarantees of success”, he will say “we have to hold to the courage of our convictions.”

“We can get this done, together,” he will say.

“And we can get this done, now.

“Because if not us, who? And if not now, when?

“Together, let’s get this done.”

‘Short, sharp’ campaign

On Friday, Mr Albanese said he would not be announcing a date yet, but voters could expect a short, sharp campaign.

“Historically in Australia, we don’t have 10-week or 12-week referendum campaigns,” he said at the festival on Friday.

“There hasn’t been a referendum held this century, which is why I don’t think people want a date announced many months in advance, and then a long day-to-day campaign.”

Peter Dutton won’t be attending the festival, but senior Liberal Angus Taylor said the opposition leader had already visited Arnhem Land and Alice Springs twice, as well as a number of other communities.

“This is where you find out what’s really going on on the ground — in and amongst those communities,” Mr Taylor said.

“I don’t think a festival is the time to see the real issues playing out on the ground.”

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said it was an “important festival” where “good conversations” would take place.

“But reconciliation and indigenous policy is about more than one festival and one day,” she said.


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.