Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he will not wait to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament if elected Prime Minister as the final week before Australians head to the polls begins.
And Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who is tipped to take the Liberal Party’s reigns from Scott Morrison should he hold his seat and his party loses office this weekend, has also left the door open to supporting a constitutional voice.
Labor has promised a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the constitution should it win on Saturday.
The Coalition is pushing ahead with its plan to legislate regional voice bodies and consider constitutional recognition at an unspecified time.
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Speaking on ABC’s Insiders Sunday morning, Mr Albanese said a voice enshrined in the constitution was a simple case of “good manners”.
“I don’t want to wait… we have been talking about it since at least the end of last century,” he said.
“This is a nation-changing moment, and just as the apology to the Stolen Generations made our country stronger, this is a generous offer form First Nations people.
“All they are asking for is a bit of politeness; good manners says that if you have an issue that affects directly the health, the education, the housing, the lives of First Nations people you should consult them.”
Mr Albanese said he would seek bipartisan support and consult First Nations people about a time for a referendum should he gain office.
Later in the program, Mr Frydenberg backed the Coalition’s regional voices model.
“We are focusing on regional voices here and that is what (Indigenous Australians Minister) Ken Wyatt has done a lot of work and received a lot of support from the local Indigenous communities to do so,” he said.
“We have put significant funding int e budgets in order to focus on those regional voices.
But when pressed on his own position, Mr Frydenberg said constitutional recognition was important.
“This debate has some way to go,” he said.
“I do see some challenges with it and ultimately Australia would be best-served by having a bipartisan approach on this, but we do support constitutional recognition of our First Australians.”
Mr Frydenberg’s leadership aspirations are far from certain, with a tough battle to retain his own seat and an expected challenge for the party’s job by Defence Minister Peter Dutton on the cards should the incumbents lose office this weekend.
The Federal election will be held this Saturday, May 21 and polls currently have Labor as favourite to win.