Australia’s National Party Monday announced it opposes a campaign to secure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in Parliament. Voice to Parliament is a proposal to amend the Australian Constitution through a referendum scheduled for 2023.
The From the Heart campaign explains that Voice to Parliament is:
An Indigenous representative body that provides advice to the Parliament and Government on laws and policies that have a particular impact on their families and communities. It would be made up of Indigenous people from across the country and be separate from the Parliament. It will provide information and advice to the Parliament and Government to assist them in making laws and policies that have a better chance of working on the ground where real change is needed.
The National Party stated, “the Voice will not advance the primary aim of Closing the Gap and dealing with the real issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It will not economically empower Indigenous people. We believe this will [not be a voice] for Indigenous communities in regional, rural and remote Australia.” Further the National Party believes “the Voice devalues the 11 elected Indigenous” members of parliament.
The National Party is considered as socially conservative and is in a coalition with the Liberal Party which is considered centre-right. The Liberal Party has yet to provide a statement on its stance on the referendum.
The From the Heart released a response, calling the decision “rash, illogical, and dismissive of the overwhelming will of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
The official schedule for the referendum is yet to be confirmed.