‘Nothing changes if it’s Yes or No’: Lidia Thorpe

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe claims things will remain the same for Indigenous Australians no matter the outcome of the voice referendum.

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe claims things will remain the same for Indigenous Australians no matter the outcome of the voice referendum. Photo: AAP

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe has taken a swipe at the Voice referendum, saying nothing will change for Indigenous Australians, whatever its outcome.

It is less than three weeks until voters head to the polls, where they will be asked to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first Australians by enshrining an advisory body known as the voice.

But the Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Warrung woman, who has been an outspoken critic of the referendum and a leader within the progressive No movement, said the Voice wouldn’t help Indigenous Australians.

“Nothing changes if it’s a yes or no vote,” she told ABC’s Radio National on Monday.

“Our people are still dying at the hands of the system, the system is still racist.”

Communities have become divided over the vote and the Victorian senator said her people were hurting more now during the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement.

“There are communities being torn apart, families are fighting one another [on] either yes or no,” she said.

“What do we get at the end of the day?… We get crumbs on the table and that is not good enough.”

Thorpe said she was willing to negotiate with the government, but needed to see change for Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islander people, specifically calling for the implementation of recommendations from the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Thorpe’s comments came as Australians living in remote communities have begun casting their votes in the Voice referendum at mobile voting stations.

Helicopters, four-wheel drives and even boats are being used by the Australian Electoral Commission to reach remote corners of the country.

The efforts will give all Australians the chance to participate in the first referendum to change the constitution since the country vetoed the republic in 1999.

Given the logistically challenging task of accessing remote communities, voting in these areas has opened 19 days ahead of the October 14 referendum date.

Early voting at other locations starts on October 2.

PM tackles Voice to Parliament questions

A successful referendum needs a majority of states to vote Yes as well as the majority of Australians.

On Monday, the latest Newspoll revealed the worst numbers for the Yes campaign yet, finding that only 36 per cent intended to vote in favour of a Voice on October 14.

This equated to a two-point fall in three weeks, while opposition to the Voice had increased to 56 per cent.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised a joint parliamentary committee will be set up to oversee the creation of the Voice advisory group if Australians vote it in at the referendum.

The committee would have co-chairs from Labor and the Coalition to ensure there was broad support for the legislation, Mr Albanese said.

“It will be important and that way, you won’t have chopping and changing,” he said on Sunday.

“This is a constructive proposal to go forward because if Australians vote yes on October 14, I believe firmly it will be a moment of national unity.”

However, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has rejected Albanese’s offer as “political games”.

“It’s obvious that he’s now trying to desperately find ways to suggest to people that there could be a bipartisan position when all he’s done right from day one is divide Australia,” Dutton said.

The No campaign maintains the Voice would keep Australia divided rather than improve the lives of Indigenous people.

“The feeling on the ground is that this is about those in the cities who are trying to impose their thinking onto regional and remote Australia,” Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price told Sky News.


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