Supporters of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament in Australia are calling on the government to postpone the planned referendum until next year due to a decline in support for the ‘Yes’ vote. Liberal MP Andrew Bragg, a proponent of the ‘Yes’ campaign, has expressed concerns about the lack of a “middle ground” and fears that without consensus, the referendum will be doomed to failure.
Bragg believes that it is crucial to “recalibrate” and give the concept a chance by holding the referendum in mid-2024. He emphasizes the importance of building bipartisan support to improve the proposal rather than solely relying on marketing efforts. However, recent polls have shown a decline in support for the Indigenous Voice this year, raising doubts about whether the double majority needed to pass the referendum can be achieved.
Bragg argues that the government’s approach to defining the wording of the referendum has left many people behind. He suggests that a committee should have been established earlier to foster consensus. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the specific details of the Indigenous Voice, such as its membership and selection process, would be determined by the parliament if the referendum succeeded. Broad design principles have been available since March.
A bipartisan parliamentary committee examined the referendum legislation for four weeks but made no changes to the government’s proposed question, which was informed by the voice working group. While the Nationals and Liberal party both expressed opposition to the Indigenous Voice before the question was put forward, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese believes that finding a bipartisan middle ground would have been impossible given the Coalition’s opposition.
Despite the calls for delay, Albanese has previously stated that there will be no consideration of postponement. The government plans to proceed with a short campaign for the referendum sometime between October and December as required by law. Any delay would require new legislation and a restart of the process.
The Indigenous Voice to Parliament is an initiative aimed at giving Indigenous Australians a formal channel to express their views on legislation and policies that affect them. It is seen as a way to address the historical marginalization and exclusion of Indigenous voices in the political process.
Proponents of the ‘Yes’ campaign argue that the Indigenous Voice would provide a platform for greater representation and decision-making power for Indigenous Australians. They believe that it is essential to empower Indigenous communities and work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
On the other hand, opponents of the referendum argue that it could create a separate and divisive political process based on race. They express concerns about the practical implementation and potential constitutional implications of the Indigenous Voice.
The debate surrounding the Indigenous Voice to Parliament highlights the ongoing challenges of reconciliation and meaningful Indigenous representation in Australia. It is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and thoughtful dialogue to ensure that the outcome is fair, inclusive, and respects the rights and aspirations of all Australians.