Litigation ‘scare campaign’ on Voice unfounded: PM

Anthony Albanese says Labor has delivered a responsible budget which looks after people.

Anthony Albanese says Labor has delivered a responsible budget which looks after people. Photo: AAP

Concerns that the Indigenous voice to parliament will lead to multiple High Court legal challenges are unfounded, the prime minister says.

Anthony Albanese branded it a scare campaign, saying similar rhetoric emerged before the Mabo and Wik High Court decisions in the 1990s and ahead of the apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008.

“Every single time there has been an advance on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs in this country in my lifetime there has been an argument which says it will end in litigation,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“I’d ask people in this parliament … for those people who are thinking what they should do, they have an obligation, in my opinion, to consider: ‘Did the apology create more unity or less?’

“In my view, it made us a better nation. So will constitutional recognition.”

Opponents of the voice have raised concerns that giving the voice the ability to make representations to the “executive government”, which includes ministers and the public service, would slow government decision-making and risk High Court challenges.

Mr Albanese has previously rejected this, arguing that the executive derives its power from parliament which remains sovereign.

On Tuesday, new polling showed a majority of people in Western Australia supported the voice to parliament.

The polling published by The West Australian followed the announcement of the question to be put to the public at a referendum and found 60 per cent of respondents would vote yes.

It also revealed 69 per cent of women and 51 per cent of men would back the voice.

The referendum is slated to be held between October and December this year.

The prime minister said he wasn’t surprised by the result.

“Australians will always stand up for the fair – I think it’s part of our ethos,” Mr Albanese said.

“This referendum is about just two things: recognising Indigenous Australians in our constitution, and secondly that they should be consulted about matters that affect them.”

Legislation setting up the voice to parliament referendum will be introduced to parliament on Thursday.

It will then be sent to a parliamentary committee before a final vote, expected in June.

Mr Albanese announced the question to be put at the referendum last week, alongside members of the referendum working group.

The question will be: “A Proposed Law: to alter the constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve of this alteration?”


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.