Shadow veterans affairs minister Barnaby Joyce has warned Australians they must vote No to the Voice to Parliament as the “dangerous” constitutional changes cannot be reversed.
Mr Joyce listed five key reasons behind his stance after repeatedly vocalising his opposition to the referendum, which is in line with his party’s official No position since November.
The Nationals have argued the constitutionally enshrined Voice – which was a key recommendation of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart – would not close the gap or economically empower Indigenous communities.
Mr Joyce told Sky News Australia’s Chief Anchor Kieran Gilbert that he found it alarming to vote in a referendum without more clarity around the Voice.
“People don’t know what the legislation is. But apparently it’s going to happen after the referendum,” he said on Sunday Agenda.
“Voting for the Voice is like voting for a car where you don’t know the make, you don’t know the model and you don’t know the price.
“It’s a very dangerous thing to do.”
He cautioned Australians that if the Voice was in any way insufficient or inadequate, it would not be easily removed given the gravity of changing the constitution.
“You’ve got to prove it works… Commissions, committees, so many (Indigenous advisory bodies),” Mr Joyce argued.
“But the thing about them is if it didn’t work, we had the capacity to get rid of it and to get something better.”
Furthermore the Nationals MP fears that the Voice could be an unelected body for a political party.
“If it gets taken over or latently becomes the possession of one side of the political fence, it stays there,” he said.
“It means we’ve got an active cell of another political party that is unelected. Selected not elected.”
Other hesitations included dividing people by race, disapproval of the “extensive executive powers” and scepticism around the Albanese government hiding advice that the solicitor-general provided from the public.
Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue presented written advice to the Voice working group around the both the question and its wording, which Peter Dutton claims has been ignored by the Albanese government.
Speaking exclusively to Sky News before departing for a week-long Easter holiday, Mr Albanese insists the solicitor-general supports the proposed change to the constitution.
“The solicitor-general’s views are very clear in support for this change – that it’s legally sound,” Mr Albanese said.
“And through the process we will be … he will, I’m sure, take the opportunity through the attorney general to make that position clear.”
Mr Albanese said he had faith in the “generosity” of Australians to help the referendum succeed when it goes to voters between October and December later this year.
The Liberal Party confirmed its position to formally oppose the constitutionally enshrined Voice on Wednesday, indicating support for legislated local and regional Voices instead.