Former Indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt says the Voice referendum was too complicated and should have split out the question of recognition, as he called on National Cabinet to urgently focus on closing the gap. Source: The Age.
One of the key conservative supporters of the October referendum – which was rejected by 60 per cent of Australians and rapidly faded as a point of political debate – said many Indigenous Australians and their leaders were still grieving but he hoped deep frustration and rejection would lead to fresh ideas.
National Cabinet and a new federal task force focused on failures to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage should “bite the bullet and deal with the targets in a very concerted, pragmatic way,” Mr Wyatt said.
Chief Voice proponents, including Noel Pearson, have not spoken publicly since the October 14 poll. Labor has not released new policies to reverse dire health, education and criminal justice statistics despite Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney hinting at new announcements on referendum night.
Regional and local voices should have been legislated before a referendum to prove their value and operation, Mr Wyatt argued.
He said it would be viewed as a historic shame that two separate questions were not asked: one on symbolic recognition in the Constitution of the unique status of First Australians and the other on the Indigenous advisory body to Parliament.
While devastating Indigenous Australians, Mr Wyatt said the referendum had the positive effect of heightening awareness of Indigenous disadvantage and spawning the next generation of Indigenous leaders he said could enter Parliament.
Voice question should have been split, Wyatt says (By Paul Sakkal, The Age)