My view on the Voice to Parliament

Friday 27 October 2023
My view on the Voice to Parliament

At the recent referendum South Australians overwhelmingly voted against a Voice to Parliament and the Executive with 65 per cent of the state voting no, and with not a single federal electorate supporting Labor’s proposal.

The South Australian Liberal Party opposed a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament. We were worried about the divisive, permanent and risky nature of the proposal and concerned it would do nothing to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.

Many in my Party, including myself, find it difficult to accept a different system of governance based solely on race. I believe in the inherent potential of the individual, regardless of race, religion, gender, social background or any other factor.

The South Australian Liberal Party was the only parliamentary team in Australia to have a united party room position against the Voice. We are focused on supporting and advocating for practical action to close the gap for Aboriginal Australians, but we saw no evidence that the Voice would achieve this.

Earlier this year we opposed the Malinauskas Labor Government’s state-based Voice to Parliament because we considered the process was rushed and the model was flawed.

Many would be surprised to learn that despite the referendum result we actually have a Voice to Parliament in state legislation including changes to the state’s Constitution. This change happened in March 2023, along with an expensive, unprecedented Sunday sitting of Parliament with plenty of grand statements and virtue signalling from the Premier.

The Premier's eagerness to 'lead the nation' when it came to a Voice to Parliament was meant to provide a blueprint for what the federal Voice would look like, but elections previously scheduled for the state Voice to occur in September 2023 were postponed until March 2024. Despite that, by dissolving the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Labor removed the Parliament’s primary means of scrutinising issues in the interests of Aboriginal Australians.

Peter Malinauskas arrogantly pushed ahead with a state-based Voice ahead of the referendum and it’s now up to him to explain why he has ignored South Australians. Peter Malinauskas must also reveal what his plans are for Truth and Treaty and what it means for South Australians. Details matter.

It’s not surprising there are calls to repeal the state-based Voice and I personally support these calls. Despite this, the Labor Government has already said they will be pushing ahead with Voice elections in 2024.

The South Australian Liberal Party will monitor the state-based Voice establishment closely. If it is not working, we will be more than willing to amend its operation, or abolish it entirely. It is critical the Liberal Party develops a thorough and thoughtful range of policies in the lead up to the 2026 State Election but in the meantime, I support Jacinta Price and Kerrynne Liddle’s calls for an audit of funding for programs intended to close the gap because it is clear the current approach is failing.