Page 1028 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2023

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Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders—Voice to Parliament

National Apology for Forced Adoptions—10th anniversary

Ms Amanda Tobler

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (5.53): I would like to take this opportunity to briefly update the Assembly on the publicly available detail on the Voice to Parliament, as we continue towards a historic referendum in the latter half of this year.

I firstly acknowledge the clarity on the position of the Canberra Liberals on the Voice, provided by Ms Lee on 17 March; that is, as an institution, the Canberra Liberals have no position. It will be up to each MLA to determine their own positions, as they did with the marriage equality vote.

I also note that the Leader of the Opposition described her own position as, “Well, if you told me you’re going to vote yes or no right now, I would say that I would have to have a think about this.” As the Leader of the Opposition is still making up her mind, I would direct her to a few helpful sources to inform her decision. Firstly, there is, the website of the yes campaign. This website includes helpful information on the process, including a printable yes guide to help inform conversations.

Another helpful resource is the commonwealth government’s Voice webpage, at This website includes significant detail on the Voice process and how the Voice will function once established. Interested members could read the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process Final Report released in December 2021, or pore over the considerations of the Referendum Working Group over the past 18 months.

Last week the Prime Minister released more detail, including the design principles of the Voice and the final wording of the question to be put to the Australian people. The principles confirmed that the Voice will give independent advice to the parliament and government. The Voice will be chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the wishes of local communities. The Voice will be representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, gender balanced, and include youth. The Voice will be empowering, community led, inclusive, respectful and culturally informed. The Voice will be accountable and transparent. The Voice will work alongside existing organisations and traditional structures. The Voice will not have a program delivery function, and the Voice will not have a veto power.

This morning the commonwealth Attorney-General introduced a bill to parliament that will trigger the referendum. I say to those Canberra Liberals who are still considering whether they will support the yes campaign: I implore you to make use of the resources available. I say to those Canberra Liberals who do support the Voice: given you do not have institutional support from your party, you would be more than welcome to join me on the campaign trail as we have this important conversation with our community.

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