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The Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has this week revealed they are ‘keeping an open mind’ to the possibility of a referendum to alter to the Australian Constitution to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
However, the Coalition will also demand the Labor Government provide more concrete details on the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
This follows Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s landmark address to Aboriginal Australia at the Garma Festival, where he has been praised for doing what very few Prime Ministers have done before him – by addressing both the problems and proposed solutions put forward by their community with a basic level of respect and decency.
Speaking at the opening of the event, Mr Albanese unveiled a proposed question for a referendum on constitutional recognition and three provisions to be embedded in Australia’s founding document.
The question, which the Prime Minister has stressed needs to be ‘simple and clear’ – is as follows: “Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”
However, the Opposition thinks the question can be even SIMPLER than that.
For the Indigenous Voice referendum to be successful, the ‘Yes’ vote needs a national majority and must be carried by at least four of the six states – and will likely cost even more than the Gay Marriage plebiscite.
It’s for this reason that Peter Dutton says Australians need as much information as possible, without getting too muddled down in the big words.
The Coalition have since proposed the alternative question, just to make it easier for respondents to provide a Yes/No answer: “Do You Not Think Aboriginal People Should Not Be Unable To Not Be Excluded From The Constitution”
Dutton says this question would be much easier for the Quiet Australians to understand, because he knows better than anyone how easily confused they can get by basic politics when presented to them via a NewsCorp newspaper, who will also be telling them that this referendum will give Aboriginal people the power to seize their family homes and overthrow the Prime Minister whenever they feel like.
The simplicity of the Liberal’s proposed Indigenous referendum question also echoes the simplicity of John Howard’s 1999 republic referendum, which was: “To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”