Baffling moment where Indigenous Affairs minister claims the Voice will end Australia Day as ‘bullshit’ – before contradicting herself in the next breath
- The government does not want to change the date of Australia Day
- Believes that ‘reflection’ is part of partying
The Minister for Indigenous Australians has denied claims that an Indigenous vote in Parliament would change the date of Australia Day, but then suggested how we should celebrate the National Day.
Linda Burney spoke at a media conference in Darwin on Thursday to allay concerns about the proposed Voice ahead of a referendum later this year.
Ms Burney said a change to the January 26 date was not in the government’s plans, but changes to the meaning behind the holiday should be considered.
“The Australian Government has a very clear policy for Australia Day, we have no plans to change it, but we do believe there should be another way to mark that day,” she said.
“It should be a celebration and acknowledgment of the great things about our country, but it should also be a reflection on the truth of this country.”
Ms Burney stated that The Voice would instead focus on tackling “everyday” issues Aboriginal people face, such as the rate of incarceration, housing, education and health.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney (pictured) said The Voice cannot change the date of Australia Day but believes the celebration of the holiday should be changed
The minister said speculation about The Voice changing the date of the holiday was “nonsense” and an “act of desperation”.
‘The Voice to the Parliament is about two things. It’s about listening and it’s also about being recognized,” she said.
“What I am making very clear is that the Voice will address the very real practical issues that affect the daily lives of Aboriginal people.
She went on to say that a lot of “mischievous misinformation” had been spread about The Voice through press conferences, social media and comments in the public arena.
However, Ms Burney’s comments drew backlash from those who believe the vote will focus on Australia Day.
“I expect Australia Day to be one of the first things they’ll try to change,” vice president of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia, Chris Merritt, told the Daily Telegraph.
“If you look at what all the Voice’s leading proponents have said… it’s high on the agenda.
“(She) cannot possibly say that Australia Day is beyond the scope of the Voice unless she proposes to change the wording of the constitutional provision.”
Former National Chairman of the Labor Party and Indigenous People’s Leader Warren Mundine weighed in, saying: ‘When The Voice comes on, it’s Australia Day and so much more than that.’
While trying to allay concerns about Australia Day changes, Ms Burney’s comments drew backlash from those who think Voice representatives will be targeted
It is proposed that The Voice be made up of representatives selected by Indigenous and Torres Strait communities – not the government – and to provide “independent advice to parliament and government.”
While the Voice cannot make or change laws, it would be able to comment on proposed legislation and policies that affect the lives of Indigenous peoples.
A statement from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s cabinet said: ‘(The Voice) will make a practical difference in communities. Nothing in the constitution detracts from the primacy of the democratically elected parliament.
“It’s unfair and divisive to suggest otherwise.”