Australia’s first and to date only Indigenous head of government has revealed he will vote No to the vote.
Adam Giles became chief minister of the Northern Territory in 2013, after overthrowing Terry Mills in a coup in the leadership of the country’s Liberal Party.
This made him the first native leader of any state or territory government.
Mr Giles, who now runs the farming businesses of billionaire mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, said the vote was a divisive issue designed to give Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a political legacy.
“I’m a firm believer that voice is not the right approach,” he told Jody Rowe’s Tough Talk. podcast.
“To me, The Voice is kind of a political tool that gets on fire: there’s a rule in politics that you start a bushfire here while you go do everything there.
“For me the voice was created as a political tool to put some sort of story in the prime minister’s biography and that ember of a fire that was started turned into a wildfire that is now out of control , and it takes reconciliation and the race relations step back a step or two.
“People have had the blackness of the government not explaining what it is.”
Australia’s first and to date only Indigenous government leader has revealed he will vote No to the vote – describing it as an issue dividing black and white Australia. Former Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles is pictured with his girlfriend Phoebe Stewart
Mr Giles supports the idea of adding a preamble to the Constitution recognizing indigenous people living in Australia before the arrival of the British in 1788.
This is also the position of the Liberal Party, which, under the leadership of Peter Dutton, opposes the Voice, but supports constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people.
Like the Federal Opposition, Mr Giles criticized Labor for not providing enough detail on the Voice proposal, which is likely to go to a referendum in October.
“I don’t know what it is and I’m pretty knowledgeable,” Mr Giles said.
“Now you see this big divide between black and white Australia.”
Mr Giles, 50, said the Aborigines he sat with in central Australia, as an Alice Springs-based MP, did not see constitutional change as necessary.
“I would say to people, ‘Do you want a change in the Constitution?’
“People were like, ‘I want a house to live in, I want a roof over my head, I want a flush toilet. I don’t know what the Constitution is.’.
“In all my time in politics in the Northern Territory, no one has told me they want to change the Constitution.
I think it’s a cruel joke. It is very upsetting that aboriginal people are used as a political tool.
Mr Giles is now the managing director of beef cattle producer S Kidman and Co, part-owned by Hancock Prospecting billionaire mining tycoon Gina Rinehart.
He is also CEO of Hancock Agriculture.
Mr Giles, who lost his Braitling seat in 2016, said he was an Australian first, having briefly dropped the Indigenous affairs portfolio when he governed the NT.
“But I would say I was not an Aboriginal chief minister, I was the 10th chief minister of the Northern Territory,” he said.
“I have Aboriginal backgrounds, but I like to call myself Australian, so I reflect on being an Australian rather than just being cast as an Aboriginal politician.
“I don’t like this terminology. I think when people say that it castigates you as an inferior person in terms of a politician and I just prefer to be recognized as an Australian who happens to have Aboriginal heritage and origin.
In 2001, Mr Giles was a senior civil servant in Canberra in the Prime Minister and Cabinet Department when he reviewed the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.
Mr Giles, who now runs the farming businesses of billionaire mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, said the vote was a divisive issue designed to give Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a political legacy. The Prime Minister is pictured far right with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, Yes23 campaign manager Dean Parkin and Indigenous leader Noel Pearson
John Howard’s coalition government in 2004 introduced legislation to abolish ATSIC the following year, with the support of the Labor opposition then led by Mark Latham.
Like the Voice, ATSIC representatives were elected by indigenous peoples, but unlike the Voice it was not an advisory body added to the Constitution and could therefore be abolished by an Act of Parliament.
Mr Albanese described the vote as a popular idea on Sunday and urged delegates to the National Labor Conference in Brisbane to campaign for it.
“I want you to go out and campaign like you’ve never campaigned before,” he said.
“And just as the idea for a voice came from below, it will be decided from below. By the people of Australia.