At Garma festival in Arnhem Land, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese made his strongest plea yet for Australians to vote yes in upcoming referendum by stating that there is “nothing to fear and everything to gain” from an Indigenous voice to parliament. He stated that there is “nothing to fear and everything to gain” from having an Indigenous voice in parliament.
The prime minister gave his word that the vote, which is scheduled to take place between September and December of this year, will go as planned.
In his presentation to the festival, Albanese stated, “There will be no delaying or deferring of this referendum,” while he again disclaimed any intention of announcing the date in the near future.
“We will not dispute the seriousness of the situation at hand. We will not put off dealing with the issue for another day. We are not going to give up on what matters in favour of empty symbolism or fall back on tired old cliches at the expense of real development.
Albanese was extremely critical of the no campaign, saying that the supporters of the movement were “desperate to talk about anything but the actual question.”
A “no” vote, according to him, would result in “more of the same,” which would mean “accepting that what we have is somehow good enough”: an eight-year gap in life expectancy, in the land of the fair go; a suicide rate twice as high, in the lucky country; shocking rates of disease, in a nation that has some of the best healthcare in the world; only four out of 19 Closing the Gap targets that are on track.
“There is no way a leader could claim with all candour that this is sufficient. It is inconceivable that a leader could ever have the attitude that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” No one in a position of leadership can possibly believe that transformation is not sorely and immediately required.
“And this is why, with each passing day, it becomes more and more obvious that the no campaign is desperate to talk about anything but the actual question before the Australian people – because even they understand that more of the same is not just unacceptable, it is indefensible.” “And this is why, with each passing day, it becomes more and more obvious that the no campaign is desperate to talk about anything but the actual question before the Australian people.”
He rejected calls “from some in the no camp” – including members of the opposition – for a legislated voice, stating that it was not what Indigenous people had called for and that it was an admission that a voice is needed. He said this because a legislated voice would be an admission that a voice is needed.
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price of the Northern Territory Country Liberal party has stated that one of the reasons she voted against the proposal is because she does not believe that it is necessary for this institution to be established in the constitution.
In July, Price stated that legislation could be an option if the proposed change turned out to be “actually as good as the government suggests it’s going to be.”
On the other hand, Albanese disregarded this strategy in his speech on Saturday.
“Their commitment to legislate a voice also undermines every other argument they make against it,” he added. “[T]here is no voice without legislation,” he said.
“It is very clear that they acknowledge the necessity of it; otherwise, why would they legislate it?
“It is abundantly clear that they do not view it as divisive or radical, or any of the other noise and confusion that they are seeking to inject into the referendum; otherwise, why legislate it?”
The number of people who have registered to vote in the referendum has surpassed 17 million, making it the election with the most participants in the history of Australia.