Kevin Rudd, Australia’s 26th Prime Minister, has called for the current Government to enlist former Prime Ministers’ help in enshrining a Voice to Parliament.
Speaking at Canberra Writer’s Festival last week, Mr Rudd urged current Prime Minister Scott Morrison to recruit some former top bosses to help create a voice for Australia’s First Peoples.
“Use [Tony] Abbott, use me, use anybody who’s previously been Prime Minister to go and fashion a consensus for Indigenous Australians and with the other constituencies in this country, and bring something forward which can work, for Indigenous people first and foremost but also the community at large,” Mr Rudd said.
Mr Rudd also hit out at those in government such as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton who continue to oppose the voice and label it a ‘third chamber.’
“It is a lie, a bald-faced lie,” Mr Rudd said, adding that the voice would be advisory and would not legislate.
“So, what I’d say to Mr Morrison … [is] define your own legacy and this can be part of it.”
Mr Rudd said the Prime Minister would go down in Australian political history if he could pull off constitutionally enshrining an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
This call to action of past Prime Ministers has been welcomed by Kimberley Land Council CEO Nolan Hunter, who said it’s important that prominent members of Australian political society be allies of Indigenous Australians in the fight for constitutional recognition.
“We need as much support behind this as possible,” Mr Hunter said.
“It’s a massive challenge in light of what has been said by Minister Ken Wyatt and the [current] Prime Minister.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains steadfast that any Indigenous recognition will not be constitutionally enshrined.
During the annual Lingiari lecture in Darwin, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said a referendum would hold no reference to a voice to Parliament.
The Lingiari lecture is named after Vincent Lingiari, the Gurindji man who led the famous Wave Hill Walk Off in August 1966, the anniversary of which passed late last week.
Gurindji Traditional Owners have been vocal in their support for constitutional recognition.
Mr Hunter said former Prime Ministers and policymakers could be helpful in achieving a Voice to Parliament as they have previously held positions in government.
“[They] are still able to have a level of influence and connection and networks and relationships across the country and internationally a well,” Mr Hunter said.
The CEO also addressed the misinformation that has been circulating around the issue of a voice becoming a ‘third chamber.’
“That’s misinformation quite simply, it’s disappointing,” Mr Hunter said.
“That’s part of the issue … in its purest form. The Uluru Statement [from the Heart] was really clear.”
Mr Hunter said this kind of misinformation has occurred because there’s “a lot of hype” surround constitutional recognition and that policymakers need to investigate how information is given to people on this topic.
“The Uluru Statement … the dialogues and the people that had input from across the regions talked about a Voice to Parliament not Voice in Parliament,” Mr Hunter said.
“I think if you just take it back to basics, the Uluru Statement was very clear in asking for something very simple … people [being] recognised in the Constitution through the establishment of a voice.”
By Hannah Cross