Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Statements by Senators
Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Voice
nator URQUHART (—) (): On 2 July, the Yes23 national day of action, I hosted a Come Together for Yes event alongside the Tasmanian Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, in Devonport, on the north-west coast of Tasmania. The event attracted over 150 supporters of the 'yes' campaign who told me how refreshing it was to see bipartisanship on display, where a Labor senator and a Liberal premier could come together for something as important as the Voice to Parliament.
My highlight was a speech given by local Indigenous man Uncle Sammy Howard. Sammy passionately told us that, until a few weeks before, he had been leaning towards voting 'no' but could now clearly see the merit and benefit in voting 'yes'. He said his decision came down to a very simple proposition, and I'd like to quote him. He said, 'People need to understand the nuts and bolts of the questions that are being asked. If your answer is yes to these questions, then you should vote 'yes'.' That's what he said. Uncle Sammy said, 'The questions are: do you believe Aboriginal people were the first people on this continent and deserve to be recorded in the Constitution as such? And do you believe that Aboriginal people deserve a voice in decisions that impact them and their communities' lives? If your answer is yes, to these questions, then you should vote 'yes'.' Uncle Sammy's simple proposal is how I'll be thinking about the referendum. He closed out his speech with a call to action: 'If you don't know ask.' I look forward to the conversation I'll be having from now until the vote with people who take his advice.
I've been energised by the amount of support I've been seeing from Australians around the country for the Voice to Parliament. People are coming together to add their voices to the growing chorus of supporters, who are excited to see real meaningful change for First Nations people in this country. It's no different in my home state of Tasmania, particularly in the electorate of Braddon, my duty electorate. (Time expired)