Nationals senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has warned Prime Minister Anthony Albanese not to expect First Nations people to vote “yes” on the Voice to parliament referendum.
Senator Nampijinpa Price and Warren Mundine, both leaders of official “no” campaigns, spent Wednesday morning in Parliament House, speaking to Indigenous community representatives from across the country.
They said Aboriginal people did not want to be divided or segregated, as they say the Voice threatened to do.
“We stand as one under (the Australian) flag as Australians – whether we are from the first peoples of this country, whether it’s from those who came on the first fleet, and the settlers and the migrants that come to this country,” Senator Nampijinpa Price said.
“We are one Australia.”
She called for an audit of the government’s Indigenous agencies, and said she believed the Voice was shaping up to be merely another level of bureaucracy on top of all the layers that had “already failed”.
More than 20 Indigenous community leaders from around the country travelled to Canberra to meet with Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and demand the Prime Minister hear their case in opposition to the Voice. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
She criticised the government for not consulting widely enough, saying that most Indigenous communities knew little about the machinations of the Voice and what it aimed to achieve.
Instead, the fear in those communities was that it would further stoke division and undo any work to close the gap.
“We’ve overcome segregation in our country, to then go ahead and put it in our founding document, that is not the right thing to do going forward,” she said.
Social worker Molisa Carney – the granddaughter of the Stolen Generation – echoed Senator Nampijinpa Price, saying the existing representative bodies that were supposed to be representing Indigenous people were “ignoring” them.
“Why aren’t our politicians … going out to the remote communities. In those communities, no one knows about the Voice,” Ms Carney said.
“And what about our poor children, the next generation – what are you going to provide for them? Division? Segregation, you’ve already done segregation.
“We’re all Australians here, we’re meant to be working together – not against each other.”
Senator Nampijinpa Price says it’s disappointing the government hasn’t been listening to Indigenous voices. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
It comes as a deal was struck between Labor and the Liberal party over the referendum machinery act – which needed to pass parliament in order to send Australians to the ballot box later this year.
The Liberals have agreed to support the bill in the Senate with amendments, including a physical pamphlet outlining both “yes” and “no” cases.
Senator Nampijinpa Price said she had yet to look over the details of the Liberals’ amendments, but was prepared to cross the floor if it did not address her concerns, including around equal funding.
Elsewhere, Mr Albanese is understood to have received the final referendum question put forward by the Referendum Working Group.
The final question is expected to be publicly announced during this sitting fortnight.
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