LIBERAL MP for Flinders Zoe McKenzie has accused the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of engaging in wedge politics rather than ensuring “an enduring win for our Indigenous Australians” over the wording of the Voice to Parliament.
“Despite … inviting all Australians to walk together to a better future, he has, without broader public debate or transparency, put forward a fundamental change to the Australian Constitution [to the Australian parliament] that, today, has the highest representation of Indigenous Australians ever on record, much to our collective pride and gratitude to the voters who have elected them,” McKenzie told parliament on 27 March.
Albanese had “smashed the hearts of many coalition parliamentarians and supporters who hoped he would conduct a “sensible, transparent, respectful civic debate involving all Australians” in the lead up to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice referendum.
McKenzie quoted Paul Kelly, columnist for The Australian, as having written that the Constitution needed to recognise Indigenous people “and what they rightly call the ‘torment of our powerlessness’, yet the Albanese cabinet decision is an extraordinary and flawed model devoid of bipartisanship or any effort to achieve it”.
Asked by The News if she would vote Yes or No to the referendum, McKenzie said that since last August she had tried to meet with all Indigenous groups on the Mornington Peninsula “to understand their aspirations for the Voice, and how they might expect it to benefit local Indigenous people”. Kelly said the referendum to be held later this year was “the Australian tragedy of 2023”.
As well as “reaching out” to community groups she had “contacted all Flinders residents who made a submission to the Calma Langton process”.
“I will continue this process over the coming months and retain an open mind throughout that process,” McKenzie said.
“I am also consulting with non-indigenous residents. There are strong views both for and against the Voice across our electorate.”
Ten days after McKenzie’s speech in parliament Ken Wyatt, who became the first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives in 2010 and was later appointed minister for Indigenous Australians in the Morrison government, announced he was quitting the Liberal Party because of its opposition to the Voice at the referendum.