Dodson did not promote legislation without a referendum, which he described as “the first step”.
Asked about Indigenous critics of the Voice, such as Country Liberal Senator Jacinta Price or Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, who called the referendum a “waste of time”, Dodson said “there was no real difference” in their aims, but noted that the disputes “were not helpful to reconciling the nation”.
There is growing disquiet among some supporters that not enough is being done to address criticism of the Voice’s scope to ensure the final amendment is capable of securing widespread support.
Linda Burney, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, released a statement after Dutton aired his criticism saying she would “continue reaching out across the parliament to build consensus and support for this important nation building project. The Voice to parliament is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the much-needed structural changes that will lead to improvements in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
The referendum work group will meet next week to discuss next steps, after the first meeting was cancelled following the death of the queen and subsequent suspension of parliament.
Burney, a Wiradjuri woman who is helming the Albanese government’s work on the Voice, joined other Indigenous MPs and senators to speak about the impact of British colonialism on Aboriginal people, drawing from her own experiences as a child.
Burney said she grew up singing God save the Queen in primary school while not being counted as an Australian and being denied the same citizenship rights as her non-Indigenous peers.
Price used her upper house speech to speak of the connection shared between famed painter Albert Namatjira and Elizabeth II, who admired his art, while also defending the role of the British Empire in Australia’s history.
“This landmass we call home was never going to be left untouched by anyone other than our first peoples,” Price said. “We can be grateful that it was, in fact, the British who settled here before any other possible colonists.”
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