Desi voice questions Parliament’s architect Greens’ resistance.
One of the architects of Desi Awaz in Parliament says he is optimistic that the proposal to include the body in the constitution will find multi-party support.
Professor Tom Calma has made it clear he will use his new platform as the 2023 Senior Australian of the Year to advocate for a successful referendum.
“I want to say that the referendum is not a choice between improving people’s lives and amending the constitution, we can do both,” he said at the awards ceremony in Canberra.
“But that will require bipartisanship, with all levels of government working together.”
Australians will vote later in the year on whether to update the country’s founding document to include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory body.
The Albanian government is pushing for a referendum, but the proposal has faced resistance from left and right-wing politics.
The Greens appear divided on the issue after First Nations spokeswoman Lydia Thorpe said she was prepared to break ranks to vote against it unless Labor agreed to a number of other demands.
Speaking to reporters after accepting his award on Wednesday evening, Professor Kalma said he did not agree with Senator Thorpe’s position.
“To me, it doesn’t stand. You either support the voice or you don’t,” he said.
Professor Calma suggested the fact that the Greens in South Australia had voted for a voice there reflected that the party could do the same in other jurisdictions.
“We’ve seen a little bit of resistance and it’s really, I say, some bargaining going on with the Greens and particularly with Senator Thorpe in trying to get some other gains.”
Albania’s government has yet to win the vote over the federal Liberal Party.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has not followed the Federalists in rejecting it outright, but has called for more detail on how it will work.
Professor Calma, who produced the Indigenous Voice co-design report with Professor Marcia Langton after thousands of consultations over two years, had previously rejected the idea that the Coalition lacked the details.
He said on Wednesday that he believed the debate on Vice would be “mature” to the point where its supporters could have meaningful conversations with politicians across Parliament.
“There’s a bit of a ho-ha going on at the moment, but it’s very politically driven,” he said.
“We have to move on from that and I suspect that won’t be too far in the future.”
The Australian of the Year awards ceremony was held a day after Anthony Albanese arrived in Alice Springs for an emergency meeting to tackle a wave of violent crime in the Outback township.
The Prime Minister has ordered an urgent review of the possibility of reintroducing opt-out alcohol bans in Central Australian communities, which could reignite the debate on local self-determination.
Professor Kalma said on Wednesday that all levels of government had a responsibility to address the issues besetting Alice Springs.
He said the vote would be more than a symbolic gesture, with a successful referendum paving the way for similar consultative bodies at the state and local government levels.