Details on the voice referendum should be released: Jeff Kennett

“If [the prime minister] going down that road, I think it’s up to him to actually give something and either pass the law or draft it and make it available for public discussion,” he said.

“Otherwise I think he runs the risk of losing the referendum because he is not transparent in whatever form he puts it.”

Calma, a co-author of the report and a member of the indigenous expert group that advises the government on its referendum strategy, said he didn’t think there was much value in translating the report into a draft law before the vote, as further amendments could change it Consultation and adjustments after the referendum.

Professor Tom Calma says the working group will not be pressured to release details.

Professor Tom Calma says the working group will not be pressured to release details. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“It is Parliament, not the people, that will make this decision [on the model]. All people are voting on is, ‘Do you think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have a voice?’ That’s a really simple suggestion,” Calma said.

He said more information would be available ahead of the vote, which will take place later this year, but said the working groups would not be pushed by “a few loud voices” into releasing details ahead of time.

“This is a serious thing that we need to take our time with and not have a handful of people dictate to us,” Calma said. “We’ve made it really clear that it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen in more than enough time for people to make an informed decision and support a referendum.”


Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney and leading Voice activist Professor Megan Davis, who is also a member of the working group, have also stressed that more details will be available, but it remains unclear how detailed they will be.

Albanese this week rejected calls from Dutton to legislate the vote first, citing the call by 250 indigenous leaders in the 2017 Uluru Declaration from the Heart for a constitutional body.

He has claimed Australians are being asked to vote on the principle, not the details, and said legislation establishing the vote will be debated after the referendum.

“The details of how it works will be subject to legislation, that’s the whole point. Over time, the success of the vote will be determined by Parliament’s ability to legislate [regarding] how the voice works,” he told 2GB this week.

Break through the noise of federal politics with news, perspective and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up for our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here. Details on the voice referendum should be released: Jeff Kennett

Callan Tansill

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