The Voice is ‘a distraction’, says Anderson
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson … condemned the “shaming” of those – many of whom were not opposed to recognition as such – asking “legitimate questions” about the referendum.
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has joined the group spearheading the “no” campaign on the Voice, MICHELLE GRATTAN reports.
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson is one of the six member committees launched on Monday to lead the “no” case in the Voice referendum.
The Voice No Case Committee’s “Recognise a Better Way” campaign argues that the Voice is “the wrong way to recognize Aboriginal people or help Aboriginal Australians in need”.
The committee includes four indigenous members and two former ministers.
The Indigenous members are NT Country Liberal party senator Jacinta Price; Warren Mundine, a one-time president of the ALP who ran as a Liberal candidate in 2019; Ian Conway, who started and developed Kings Cross Station in the NT and Bob Liddle, owner of Kemara Enterprises.
Anderson, former leader of the Nationals, was deputy prime minister between 1999 and 2005. Gary Johns was a federal MP from 1987-96 and served as special minister of state in the Keating government. Later he became a critic of Labour. He is the former commissioner of the Australian Charity and Not-for-profit Commission.
Anderson said he could not support race-based measures in the constitution. He described those racial provisions that are currently there as “deplorable”.
He condemns the “shaming” of those – many of whom were not against recognition as such – who ask “legitimate questions” about the referendum. “This is not the way Australia should do business.”
Anderson also said there was a refusal by the “experts” to listen to people with lived experience. He cited the debate over access to alcohol in NT communities – elites said the right to use alcohol was more important than the safety of women and children.
The Recognize a Better Way campaign proposed what it described as “a positive three-point plan”. It would recognize the past occupation of Aboriginal people in a preamble to the constitution, create a parliamentary committee for native title holders and support Aboriginal community-run organisations.
“The Vote to Parliament is a distraction from important issues that need to be tackled to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal Australians. Indigenous Australians don’t need more votes; they need a way into wider society,” the group said in a statement.
The group will issue discussion papers and hold meetings across the country.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton will virtually attend a meeting of the government’s referendum working group on Thursday, which advises on the Vote.
Dutton put an extensive list of questions to the government about the Vote on which the Liberals have yet to take a position.
Nationals leader David Littleproud told reporters on Monday that he personally supports the insertion of a preamble acknowledging that Indigenous Australians were here first. He believed there would be broad support for it in his party room – which declared opposition to the Voice.
Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra. This article was republished from The Conversation.
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