Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is “treating people like mugs” over a lack of information on the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
- Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has told the prime minister the Voice will fail without more detail
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he “still hasn’t seen” the open letter from Mr Dutton
- Australia could vote on the referendum as soon as August
In an open letter, Mr Dutton asked 15 questions he said needed to be answered before Australians could make an informed decision at the upcoming referendum.
The Voice, which was at the heart of a pre-election promise from Labor, would enshrine an independent, representative advisory body for First Nations people.
Mr Dutton accused the prime minister of failing to outline concrete details of the planned constitutional change ahead of this year’s referendum.
The vote could be held as soon as August.
Mr Dutton said the Voice would fail unless Australians were given more detail.
“It’s obvious that the prime minister has made a political decision based on the advice of his strategists not to provide the detail to the Australian public,” he said.
“By doing that, I really think he’s treating people like mugs.
“People won’t lightly change the constitution — even if they believe in the cause — unless there’s a compelling argument to do so.”
‘Setting the Voice up to fail’
Mr Dutton said the prime minister was making a grave mistake by not outlining the government’s preferred model ahead of the vote.
“By starving the Australian people of the basic detail of the Voice, the prime minister is really setting the Voice up for a fail and setting back reconciliation and that’s something that he has to answer to the Australian public on.”
Mr Albanese took to Twitter to reply to Mr Dutton.
“People are over cheap culture war stunts,” he said.
Nationals leader David Littleproud announced the party would not support the Voice to Parliament in November last year.
The opposition is yet to decide whether to formally support or oppose it.
‘More detail to come’
Uluru Dialogue’s senior engagement officer Eddie Synot said the opposition leader’s rhetoric came as no surprise.
“Someone coming out and doing what politicians have always done doesn’t surprise us,” he said.
“More than anything it reinvigorates and affirms for us why we issued the Uluru statement form the heart and why we need to change.”
“The detail exists, the detail is there and there’s more detail to come to be able to inform people about how the referendum works and what the Voice is going to do.
“Overwhelmingly, the Australian people are onboard. They’re the reason we’ve gotten to this point… where it’s now a national policy and we’re about to go to a national vote.”
He said should the opposition adopt a no stance, he doesn’t believe it would be damaging to their overall campaign.
“The Australian people are leading this, not politicians. We had to drag the politicians to the point where we get the opportunity as Australian people to be able to have our vote.
“We’re more than ready.”
Australians will vote on whether to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the constitution within the next 12 months.