‘Rocks in their head’: MP issues warning to Coalition colleagues over wild Voice claims

The ‘Yes’ campaign for the Indigenous Voice has moved onto the front foot before expected fresh confrontations in Parliament this week and an emerging interstate divide on the referendum.

In north-east Arnhem Land at the Garma festival, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declared on Sunday that the referendum would be pressing ahead in the teeth of Opposition attacks and a recent downturn in published polls.

“No one’s (here) saying, ‘Oh, this is too hard’,” Mr Albanese said.

“What they’re saying is, ‘Let’s get this done. We’re determined to do this’.”

A poll from the RedBridge Group published on Sunday found ‘No’ ahead by 56 to 44 per cent nationally.

But Mr Albanese said he was confident in the “generosity of the Australian people” and that voters would focus their minds in the lead-up to a polling day between September and December.

Members of the Coalition frontbench were absent from Sunday’s gathering at Garma, thought to be the largest ever Indigenous cultural gathering in Australia’s history. 

But the conservative side of politics was not unrepresented.

Road to ruin?

Independent MP Andrew Gee, who represented western New South Wales for the Nationals in state and federal Parliament for a decade before quitting last year, suggested his former colleagues’ attacks on the Voice could be putting them on the “road to political ruin”.

“You can’t just be governed by polls,” Mr Gee said.

“You would never do anything meaningful; you’d never stand for anything; you’d never fight for anything; you’d never move the country forward.

“If the conservative side of politics thinks that opposing the Voice in the way that they are … labelling it Orwellian or saying that it will re-racialise Australia. If people think that is the way to political salvation, they have rocks in their head.”


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RedBridge’s research showed public opinion on the Voice was divided unevenly across the states; ‘No’ was ahead 63-37 per cent in Queensland.

The ‘Yes’ campaign is focusing on crucial states.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Uluru Statement from the Heart architects Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson jointly hosted an event in Queensland on Sunday with local Indigenous elders.

Held in the Treasurer’s home town of Logan, the discussion panel was one of a series of events held with the aim of wresting back the debate about the proposed Indigenous advisory body.

The push follows similar sessions across south-east Queensland and central-west NSW and a Yes23 doorknocking campaign in every electorate in Western Australia. 

Clashes over the Voice mounted in intensity during last week’s sitting of Parliament.

Last week, the Coalition trained its rhetorical attacks on the Makarrata Commission, a truth and reconciliation commission established independently of the Voice.

Establishing a truth commission, a body designed to deal with healing historical conflict, was recommended by a joint parliamentary committee five years ago

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley last week defended the decision by the Liberal Party’s leadership to miss the festival.

“I wish everyone well at the Garma Festival … and I’m sure that good conversations will take place,” she said.

“But reconciliation and Indigenous policy is about more than one festival and one day.”

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