Aboriginal ABC presenter Tony Armstrong has weighed in on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Armstrong, who presents sports coverage on ABC News Breakfast, admitted he “diddly squat” about whether the Voice would be good or bad for Aboriginal people.
He said Aboriginal people should be the ones talking about the voice and admitted it was a complex subject.
Tony Armstrong poses with the Logies award he won in June for ‘Most Popular New Talent’
“I leave it to the people who know their shit to give advice on it,” the proud Barranbinya man told Stellar magazine.
Before the end of the year, Australians will be asked if they support constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples with a vote in Parliament, which will act as an advisory body on Aboriginal matters.
Armstrong, who won a 2022 Logie award for most popular new talent, said he didn’t think the referendum vote on The Voice was a simple matter of choosing between ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
“The way it’s framed in public discourse is that it’s binary, but it’s much more nuanced and complex than that,” he said.
Armstrong said he would look to prominent Indigenous Australians and elders to help him decide.
“I’m going to follow the path of my leaders,” he said.
Armstrong said the debate on the Voice made it “another red hot year for blackfellas.”
“Our identities will be ripped apart and pulled apart and examined,” he said.
“The irony, whichever way it goes, will be: it’s not necessarily the blackfellas whose voice makes the difference.”
His comment comes as outspoken lawyer Megan Krakouer, Perth’s Citizen of the Year 2023, says The Voice will be irrelevant, powerless and toothless with no “guarantee of change”.
She says outback communities have no idea what it is, and in its proposed form warns it won’t be able to do anything to help them.
“They’ll say, ‘Which voice? John Farnham the voice? Or The Voice the TV show,'” said the director of the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project.
‘I say: ‘No, the vote to parliament.’ They say, “Oh, we don’t know about that.”‘
Ms Krakouer said she intends to campaign against the Voice because it lacked the power to actually bring about any change in the people she represents.
The Voice will be able to advise Parliament and Government on matters directly affecting Australia’s First Nations people.
Armstrong, who is a former AFL star, said he was uncomfortable being called a sex symbol
Armstrong wrote alongside the hateful message (above) that “this shit needs to stop” and said the slur-ridden message was sent to his work email
But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has stressed that he will have no veto power over any legislation.
“I want to see something with teeth, I want to see legislative changes and I want to see policies that protect the interests of all Australians and First Nations people in particular,” Ms Krakouer told The West Australian.
“It will be the highest deliberative body of Indigenous First Nations people across the country… without any power. Sure, it may have the ability to make an impact, but we’re still unclear on the details of how that will actually play out across the country.”
She added, “I walk with thousands of our poorest brothers and sisters. I have seen a premature and avoidable death haunt each of these families.
“I know I will speak for many of them, and they will agree with what I am advocating. Is it so wrong to ask that the Voice be more and with ‘teeth’, so that fewer of my people fail prematurely and undeservedly?”
Ms Krakouer said she was ready to admit she was wrong if proven wrong, but said her experience had made her cynical about the government’s motives.
She added: “In all my working life I have never known a government I can trust, and I feel it is my duty to hold accountable for what is being promised here.”
She wants the money spent on The Voice and the referendum campaign instead to be spent directly on Indigenous issues, such as suicide prevention and childcare.