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Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney: Voice is about two-way trust

Linda Burney has stepped up her Voice campaign as polls record withering support.

Linda Burney has stepped up her Voice campaign as polls record withering support. Photo: AAP/TND

With polls indicating support for the ‘yes’ case in the looming Voice referendum is waning, Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney has stepped up the campaign to assure Australians there is nothing to fear.

The Voice would be an equal partner in a two-way relationship that would finally produce workable solutions to long-standing issues of inequality and despair.

As campaigning ahead of the referendum ramps up, Ms Burney stressed the dynamic between government and the proposed body would be based on trust.

“The relationship I want with the voice is a two-way process, one of the respect, one of listening to fresh ideas about intractable problems,” she told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“The Voice is about two things: it’s about making a practical difference to the shocking social justice outcomes for Aboriginal people, and of course, it’s about that wonderful unifying aspect of recognising 65,000 years of history in our Constitution.”

The comments follow an address by Ms Burney at the National Press Club, where she outlined that the voice would have four main policy areas of health, education, jobs and housing.

So many missed targets

The minister said she would respect the independence of the Voice to advise on issues, should the referendum succeed.

“The Voice is an independent body chosen by Aboriginal people to represent their views and voices in Canberra,” she said.

“The Voice I know will concentrate on issues to close the gap in this country. We’ve got 19 targets and [only] four are on track.

“That cannot be good for the country and certainly not good for Aboriginal people.”

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

Ms Burney, who is in Tasmania on Sunday to help advocate for the ‘yes’ vote, said the scope of the proposed Voice should be a “respectful discussion”.

‘Everything to gain’

“I have identified very clearly … what I think the priorities are, but obviously, there are other issues, like baby birth weights, like life expectancy,” she said.

“There is nothing to lose and there is everything to gain from the establishment of a Voice.”

The minister said the referendum was needed to ensure the body could not be disbanded by future governments “by the stroke of a pen”.

She said should the ‘yes’ vote succeed, parliament would then determine the structure of the voice.

“The legislation that will follow this will determine the composition of the voice, the functions of the voice and ultimately the establishment of the voice,” she said.

“I have enormous faith in the Australian people and I don’t say that because I’m supposed to say it, I say it because I really believe it, and I believe that this will be a successful referendum.”

-with AAP

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