by SEAN BURKE – PRIME Minister Anthony Albanese is telling voters his Voice proposal is no big deal while at the same time telling Aboriginal activists that it’s “a very big deal, indeed”.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott told The Institute of Public Affairs last week that Mr Albanese was taking Australia down the wrong path on reconciliation.
He said the Labor Prime Minister was signalling to Aboriginal leaders that Indigenous sovereignty was at the heart of the Voice proposal.
“Mr Albanese is telling the Indigenous leadership, the activist leadership, that this is ‘a very big deal, indeed’ – which ‘restores in large measure the sovereignty that you had illegitimately taken away from you in the years following 1788’.”
Mr Abbott said the Voice proposal needed to be scrapped.
“I really do wish the Prime Minister would decide that he is on the wrong track and pull this whole thing.
“I don’t expect him at the 11th hour to have a change of heart. But, either way, there is going to be damage and division done by this.
“I think the least amount of damage will be done by a successful No vote because that will enable us to start again and do recognition, if it is to be done, in a unifying way.”
Mr Abbott said the Voice proposal was not only “divisive and dangerous” but also “incredibly cumbersome and enormously expensive”.
“The key thing is the proposed Section 129.2 which will come into the Constitution should this referendum as currently drafted be carried,” he said.
“This section provides that the Voice has a right to make representations to the parliament and to the executive government on matters ‘relating’ to indigenous people.
“Now, this is effectively a right to make representations on everything.”
He said such an outcome would significantly clog up an already “constipated” legislative process.
“This means that all significant decisions will need to be advised in advance to the Voice in reasonable time. The Voice needs to be resourced sufficiently to be able to consider the matter carefully and then if it chooses to make representations, the relevant decision-maker is going to have to take them seriously.
“And quite possibly, if the relevant decision-maker decides not to heed advice from the Voice, it may then have to give the Voice some kind of right of comeback.
“At the very least, what this means is that all significant decision-making is going to be much slower and much more cumbersome.
“The whole apparatus of government is going to get bigger and more unwieldy.
“So there is time and expense being added to decisions which, as we have seen, are already incredibly constipated and extraordinarily expensive.”PC