Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Statements by Members
O'Connor Electorate: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice
Today I rise to report the referendum result of 77 per cent no for my electorate of O'Connor and how this can be interpreted. First, I credit the volunteers manning O'Connor's 107 polling booths and commend their conviction and resilience. I thank the 120,000 electors of O'Connor and say emphatically that voting no does not make you racist, stupid, a dinosaur or—excuse the unparliamentary language—a dickhead. Most of you have witnessed Indigenous disadvantage in your regional communities and overwhelmingly want to see improvement in the lives—
Most of you want to see improvement in the lives of the most marginalised, and Australia agrees with you. The Voice is not the way.
I have been listening to many views of O'Connor's diverse Indigenous population over my tenure as an MP, and I've helped many Indigenous projects secure federal support. It was at the behest of some of the most respected elders of my northern Goldfields communities that I supported the introduction of the cashless debit card and secured an election commitment for the Leonora family violence centre. Sadly, these and many other life-changing Indigenous initiatives were scrapped by this Labor government without listening to people on the ground who were seeing real improvements in their quality of life and a reduction in social harm.
Yes, we can do better. Going forward, Mr Albanese needs to listen to the voices of O'Connor's most disadvantaged and marginalised— (Time expired)