Tony Abbott defended likening enshrining an Indigenous advisory body in the Constitution to creating a House of Lords, saying both are hereditary.
“I can appreciate that not everyone likes the comparison. But in this important respect, it’s correct. The House of Lords at least prior to reforms in the late 1950s was entirely hereditary. And this voice will be hereditary in the sense that to be a member of the voice, you have to have Indigenous ancestry,” the former PM said.
“So to that extent, it is an entirely accurate comparison. Now, I absolutely agree that we do want to do much better by people who were doing it badly. I should make a distinction, not all Indigenous people are in the same boat.”
Abbott said there was no evidence a Voice to parliament would move the dial on disadvantage among Indigenous communities, particularly in remote parts of the country.
He said bolstering the police presence in Indigenous communities, making sure children went to school and adults went to work and boosting the number of Indigenous parliamentarians should be the focus.
“There is absolutely no doubt that large swathes of remote Australia are very substantially under policed and this, to be honest, is why there are so many issues of dysfunction in some of these communities.”
Abbott argued the preamble should be amended to include symbolic recognition of Indigenous Australians.
“I don’t want to change the way we governed, I just want to acknowledge the fact that Indigenous people were here first and should be respected as the first Australians.”