Barnaby Joyce has accused the Albanese government of “covering up” details about the Voice to Parliament in a fiery on-air debate with Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek.
The heated Easter Monday exchange on Sunrise began when Mr Joyce questioned the power of the constitutionally enshrined Voice to advise parliament and the Executive Government, if the referendum were to pass later this year.
Mr Joyce demanded the government release legislation which outlines how the Voice would operate before Aussies vote on the constitutional change.
To illustrate his point and as an example, Sunrise host Natalie Barr asked whether the Indigenous Voice would need to be consulted to order submarines.
Ms Plibersek said those calls would be debated and made by members of the parliament, in a bid to reassure voters.
“The parliament will be able to set the rules,” she told Seven’s Sunrise.
“It’s about advice. So you don’t have to listen to the advice.”
The Labor frontbencher continued to explain that parliament would decide how the Voice is “constituted, how big it is, how it’s elected, what it’s got a say over”.
When Barr asked for clarification if legislation would be released, Ms Plibersek said there was “no point” holding a debate ahead of a referendum that might lose.
Mr Joyce rolled his eyes in response and accused Labor of “sneaky” tactics.
“So sneaky. So sneaky,” Mr Joyce said.
“Be honest. Show us the legislation before the Australian people before you vote otherwise you are being sneaky.”
However, earlier in the segment Ms Plibersek rubbished claims the advisory body could influence the Reserve Bank, the Australian Defence Force or the ABC as made up “frightening scenarios”.
She said the Voice would be busy focusing on matters related to bridging a gap for First Nations communities in areas of “life expectancy, health outcomes, remote housing, employment, education”.
Part of the proposed constitutional change stipulates that “the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.
Questions around influence on Executive Government have been driven by Peter Dutton who also claims that Labor have ignored written advice by Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue presented to the Voice working group.
Speaking exclusively to Sky News on Sunday before departing for a week-long Easter holiday, Mr Albanese insisted 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 also revealed that an education campaign around the Voice’s role will be launched to give further detail to Aussies as they cast their vote later this year.