Voice referendum fallout as Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles says Labor still stands by Uluru Declaration with heart
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the Government was still committed to the Uluru Statement from the bottom of its heart following the resounding defeat of the Indigenous Voice in Parliament.
Australia woke up to every state and the Northern Territory recording a no vote in the referendum, with attention focused on the future and what comes next for Indigenous Australia.
During an appearance on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, Mr Marles was asked whether the Albanian government would now support a truth-telling process – one of the three main pillars of the Uluru Declaration, which are “Voice, Treatise and Truth”.
“We have made it clear that we support the Uluru Statement from the bottom of our hearts and this is part of it,” Mr Marles said.
The Uluru Declaration was created in 2017 and calls on the government to first enshrine a voice for Parliament in the constitution.
But the “high point of the agenda” was always a Makarrata Commission, which would seek to implement treaties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia and tell the truth about Indigenous Australia.
The Makarrata Commission was not part of the referendum question and was a separate entity from the Voice proposal. The commission’s work was interrupted during the referendum process.
Mr Marles said of the Uluru Statement: “We have made the main commitment to everything contained in it and we are not reneging on it.
But Mr Marles admitted he did not have all the answers on how best to proceed in the face of such a resounding defeat at the polls on Saturday night.
The Uluru Declaration was created in 2017 and calls on the government to first enshrine in the constitution a voice in Parliament.
“We are committed to fully implementing the Uluru Declaration,” he said.
“This is what we have presented to the Australian people and this has been our articulated position for a long time.”
Mr Marles said the Australian people “always get it right” and “we need to let the dust settle” on what happens next.
“I think in terms of the exact steps we need to take, that’s something we need to take the time to work on.” I think people can relate to that.
His reaffirmation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart comes just hours after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese admitted defeat in a speech to the nation.
Mr Albanese was asked directly if his government was still fully committed to the Uluru Declaration – in which the three pillars are Voice, Treaty and Truth.
The Prime Minister said: “We have just had a referendum. We held a referendum and it was unsuccessful. I respect the result of this referendum.
But he said the principles that led him to sign up to the Declaration would “continue to guide him” for the remainder of his term as prime minister.
“Our government will continue to listen to people and communities,” he said.
“Our government will continue to pursue better outcomes for Indigenous Australians, their children and generations to come.
Mr Marles said of the Uluru Declaration: “The main commitment to everything in it, we have made and we are not moving.”
There were tears at Yes campaign events on Saturday night as the referendum was rejected.
“It’s not just in the interest of Aboriginal Australians. It is in the interests of all Australians to build a better future for our nation.
The Prime Minister said the referendum result would not mark “the end of the road” and “certainly not the end of our efforts to bring people together”.
“The problems we sought to solve have not disappeared, nor have the people of good will and good hearts who wish to solve them.
“And we will reach out to them, with hope in our hearts, with faith in one another, with kindness toward one another.
“Constitutional change may not have happened tonight, but change has happened in our great nation. Respect and recognition are given at events. The fullness of our story began to be told.
The Prime Minister said the referendum result would not be “the end of the road”, and “certainly not the end of our efforts to bring people together”.