Opposition leader Peter Dutton says the Indigenous Voice to Parliament will be an “overcorrection” and risks regression, rather than progression.
The first of 70 MPs to speak to the Constitution Alteration Bill in the House of Representatives this week, Mr Dutton said the proposed referendum was a “reckless roll of the dice” which would further divide the country.
All members wanting to speak on the record will be able to do so in the House this week before the Bill continues to the next stage.
“Changing our constitution to enshrine a voice will take our country backwards, not forwards,” Mr Dutton said.
“The voice is regressive, not progressive.
“Our constitution is not something to be toyed with lightly.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton was the first MP to speak to the Constitution Alteration Bill debate on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
Invoking George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in alleging the body would divide Australia, Mr Dutton said it would have an effect where “all Australians are equal, but some Australians are more equal than others”.
“Instead of being one, we will be divided in spirit and in law,” he said.
“This voice will re-racialise the country.”
Mr Dutton used his time to criticise the government for not holding a new constitutional convention on the Voice.
“Instead, we had a 4.5 day committee, a kangaroo court led by a government that never wanted to entertain changes to its bill,” he said.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney lashed Mr Dutton for ‘misinformation’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
Following him was Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney, who blasted Mr Dutton for spreading “misinformation and scare campaigns” about the Voice.
She said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were well overdue constitutional recognition.
“Constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament is about giving Indigenous Australians a say in matters that affect us,” she said.
“It means delivering structural change.”
She also downplayed Mr Dutton’s allegations the process to establish the Voice had been rushed, saying it had been developed over many years.
Touching on concerns leveraged by some “yes” proponents about the ability to advise executive government, Ms Burney said the constitutional amendment currently before the parliament “takes the right form”.
“It’s symbolic and practical,” she said.
Debate will continue throughout the week, with a vote on the bill expected next week before it moves to the senate.
Australians are tipped to head to the polls to vote between October and December.
Read related topics:Indigenous Voice To ParliamentPeter Dutton