Thursday, 8 September 2022
Questions without Notice
Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Voice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Senator Gallagher. Given today's announcement that the Labor government has appointed a working group on the Voice, can the minister advise the Senate if this working group will confirm the membership of the Voice, the selection process for the Voice and powers of the Voice prior to the proposed referendum?
I think those are matters that the minister will be dealing with. I understand there is a meeting tomorrow, and those matters are firmly within her areas of responsibility. This will be an important group. I heard—
I think this is a very important group, dealing with an issue around constitutional recognition, a voice to parliament that is one that we should all engage in. There is an opportunity here to do something nation-building, something inclusive, something that will right a previous wrong, and a lot of work needs to be done. This Senate has a role to play in that, about listening to different opinions—
Senator Thorpe, I did not hear any comments you made.
Order! But your constant interjections are disorderly, and I would ask you to—
Senator McKenzie, at the time that I am calling another senator to order for being disorderly, you yourself are being disorderly. I would call senators to order and ask them to listen to answers to the questions. Minister.
Thank you, President. What I was saying is that the referendum working group will be an important part of implementing a First Nations Voice to parliament. We want to progress it in a way that brings people together, understanding that there are different views about how to progress this. But there is an opportunity here to work together to do something meaningful—
Senator Nampijinpa Price, a first supplementary?
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order! I would invite those senators who are constantly interjecting to put their hands up to ask questions when it's their opportunity to do so. Your constant interjections are disorderly.
Can the government outline how free, prior and informed consent will be obtained by Aboriginal Australians during this new group's engagement activities, given the body will form the basis of the 'yes' campaign for a referendum?
I repeat the answer I gave to the last question, which is about the referendum working group being an important part of implementing the First Nations Voice to parliament. It will assist the government and provide advice to the government. We have Minister Linda Burney working with Senator Pat Dodson and a whole range of other highly eminent Australians on the referendum working group.
My point is that the working group will work through a whole range of issues in formulating their advice and progressing the implementation of this commitment. That is the job and that is why it's being formed. (Time expired)
Can the minister outline how much the new working group on the proposed Voice model is costing taxpayers, including the expenditure already allocated to the National Indigenous Australians Agency on developing the model?
There are costs associated with progressing the Voice to parliament. There was provision made for some of this by the previous government when you lot were in power. There was some money put aside in the budget. We expect that there will be some additional investments—we see them as investments, rather than costs—that go to making sure that we do this properly, that we bring people together, that we unite the nation and that we do it properly. That is why so much work is going into the engagement mechanisms and making sure that the working group is able to have all of the conversations they need to have to bring people together, to make sure that we do this in a way that unites the country rather than divides it. If there are additional costs, they will be in the budget.