‘No’ vote would endorse failed policies: Albanese

As the 'yes' and 'no' cases are made public, the prime minister says the clearest argument in favour is to improve policies for Indigenous Australians.

As the 'yes' and 'no' cases are made public, the prime minister says the clearest argument in favour is to improve policies for Indigenous Australians. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says a ‘no’ vote in the Indigenous voice referendum will be an endorsement of failed policies.

The ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps have revealed the arguments they will make in an effort to win voters to their respective sides in the referendum, due to be held between October and December.

The Australian Electoral Commission published online on Tuesday the formal ‘yes’ and ‘no’ cases for the proposed constitutional change.

Polling shows a lessening of support for the change, but Mr Albanese said there was a strong case to be made for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice.

He pointed to the eight-year life expectancy gap and figures showing young Indigenous men were more likely to go to jail than to go to university.

“We have four out of the 19 Closing the Gap targets currently being met,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“We need to do better – if Australia votes ‘no’, that is saying that will keep doing things the same way.

“If you keep doing things the same way, you should expect the same results – we need to do things differently and we need to do that by showing respect.”

Asking people to vote for a “better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and all Australians”, the ‘yes’ case has the endorsement of Indigenous stars including former tennis world No.1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley, the NRL’s Johnathan Thurston and AFL great Eddie Betts.

Thurston said Indigenous young people “deserve the chance to be their best”.

“I work closely with schoolkids in the Yarrabah community in Queensland,” he wrote.

“I’ve seen the obstacles they face. Nobody understands that better than their local community.

“Giving them a say will mean more of our kids reach their potential. That’s what the voice is about.”

Ms Goolagong said voting ‘yes’ was a chance to “help the next generation chase their dreams”.

“Let’s grab this moment with both hands,” she wrote.

The ‘no’ case claims the voice proposal goes beyond recognition, and poses the “biggest change to our constitution in our history”.

“It is legally risky, with unknown consequences. It would be divisive and permanent,” it said.

“If you don’t know, vote no.”

Quoting a number of former judges, the main arguments laid out describe the voice as a risk, lacking detail, divisive, and being impractical for Indigenous Australians.

“This voice has not been road tested” and there is no comparable constitutional body anywhere in the world, it said.

“A centralised voice risks overlooking the needs of regional and remote communities.”

‘No’ campaign proponent Warren Mundine said he was “pretty comfortable” with the wording of the document but there were some minor things wrong with it.

Mr Mundine said the prime minister’s decision not to announce the date of the referendum next month showed he was seeking some “breathing space” for the ‘yes’ campaign.

“We need more detail and more proper analysis about how this (constitutional change) is going to be the answer to all things,” he told the ABC.

Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who quit the party’s front bench due to his support for the voice, said there were people in the ‘no’ camp who were distracting from key arguments.

“Many of the arguments that we hear in the ‘no’ case today are echoes of arguments that we’ve heard other times in our history,” he told ABC Radio.

“Some of the arguments echo arguments against Federation over 120 years ago.”


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