Monday, 21 June 2021
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Consideration in Detail
On the first constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice, I remember back at Garma, in north-east Arnhem Land, where the member for Lingiari, Senator Pat Dodson, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and I sat around a table with then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. It was pretty sad because there was a leader who didn't have the fortitude to take this issue and, basically, have the debate and advocate for this very important issue. Eighty per cent of the respondents had said very clearly that a First Nations voice was required. Those opposite obviously got rid of that Prime Minister anyway. Despite slamming the door on what the Uluru Statement from the Heart actually called for, the government has engaged in a consultative process on the design of an Indigenous voice. We're currently in the midst of that process.
As I've mentioned, 80 per cent of the over 3,000 submissions—and they are incredibly important—said that the First Nations National Constitutional Convention and the First Nations voices that have contributed to this process have acted in good faith and with the best interests of their own communities at heart. What they said clearly is that a constitutionally enshrined voice is what is required. The government needs to reciprocate the strong voice in those submissions.
I offer two questions to the minister. Firstly, it's my understanding that up to 80 per cent of the submissions support the enshrinement of the Indigenous voice in the Constitution. If this is not the case, how many submissions from this consultation process support the enshrinement of the Indigenous voice into our Constitution? Secondly, if the figure of supporting submissions is as high as 80 per cent, will the government commit to listening to the people and acting to enshrine the Indigenous voice in our nation's Constitution? I think those questions are very important. Will this process that was entered into in good faith by First Nations people around this country be honoured? We on this side hope that it will and look forward to the minister's response to those two questions.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Remainder of bill—by leave—taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill agreed to.
Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.