Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 23 June 2023

FRIDAY, 23 JUNE 2023 

SUBJECTS: Voice to Parliament 

NATALIE BARR:Thank you, Shervo. Well, the Opposition Leader has made a sensational call for the Prime Minister to ditch the Voice referendum, despite the bill for a national vote to be held only just passing in the Senate. Peter Dutton has urged Anthony Albanese to abandon the referendum, fearing reconciliation will be harmed if it fails. The PM has rejected the calls, though, accusing Dutton of seeking to create confusion and spread division. Let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you. Sussan, it was only a few days ago, wasn’t it, that most coalition members voted for us to have a referendum? Now your leader says we shouldn’t, we should ditch it. Why? 

SUSSAN LEY:Nat, we don’t want this referendum to fail, but the proposal as it stands is simply not acceptable. So, Peter Dutton sensibly has said, let’s press pause, let’s build consensus. This is an offer of friendship, of working constructively with the government, of actually saying if the Voice goes down and loses support, it risks the whole mission of reconciliation in this country taking a step backwards. So, I think it is time for the Prime Minister to consider whether he just wants to stick to his original timeline, which I believe is a political timeline, or whether he actually genuinely wants to work with all members across the Parliament to support something as critical as constitutional recognition of our First Australians. 

BARR: And that’s one point. But why did you guys vote for it the other day? 

LEY: Well, that was a vote to the referendum to proceed, and that’s quite sensible, because ultimately it’s the Australian people who need to have their say. 

BARR: Well, now you’re saying you want the referendum, aren’t you? 

LEY: No, we’re saying the proposal as it stands is not acceptable. 

BARR: The wording – 

LEY: The wording of the proposal as it stands is not acceptable. Nat, our problem has been the wording. We said yesterday very clearly, press pause, build consensus, come up with ways that bring indigenous Australians as our First Australians into the constitution, something the Liberal Party has had on its policy platform for years, and legislate the Voice in the Parliament. But let’s not risk taking a step backwards when it comes to reconciliation. 

BARR: Jason, have they got a point? Because a lot of people, whether you guys think they do or not, do not understand this referendum. 

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: The Liberal Party aren’t being fair dinkum here. In the last year, the Prime Minister’s had meeting after meeting with Peter Dutton, brought him into his office. Peter Dutton hasn’t offered one single idea here. The legislation that’s now gone through the Parliament, the Liberal Party, who are now saying they’ve got concerns with this, didn’t offer one single amendment. This shows that the Liberal Party aren’t fair dinkum. 

This is an offer by Indigenous people asking to change the Constitution to recognise the fact that Australia didn’t start when Captain Cook arrived, and asking to be heard. These are people who are sicker and live shorter lives than the rest of Australians and are asking for a bit of help here. This won’t affect 97 per cent of Australians, but will help to improve the lives of the other 3 per cent of Australians. 

BARR: But Jason you’ve got a lot of work to do to explain it to Australia, haven’t you? 

CLARE: We do. And over the next few months, we’ll do that. But we’ve also got to call out the misinformation as well. The Liberal Party are up to their old games here. When Mabo first happened, they said that you’d lose your backyard, and that was BS. When we issued an apology to people who were stolen away from their mums when they were still in nappies, Peter Dutton said that would cost Australians $10 billion, and that was BS. And a lot of this is BS, too. It’s the same old Liberal Party and the same old BS. 

BARR: Okay, we thank you for your time. We’ll see you next week.