Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt – who yesterday became the first indigenous person sworn into cabinet – says the government will not rush to install a voice to parliament, declaring a referendum for constitutional recognition was a “long-term” project.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says such a move would be virtue signalling tokenism of the highest level which is doomed to failure and would do nothing to fix the problems endemic in indigenous communities.
Mr Wyatt said the proposal for an indigenous voice would be one option the government would consider as it worked towards constitutional recognition, but he warned that “nobody has really defined what a voice is”.
Speaking to The Australian after he was sworn in to cabinet, Mr Wyatt said his elevation showed young indigenous Australians they could “take the aspirational” road in life and realise they had the capacity to succeed.
On the voice to parliament, Mr Wyatt said there needed to be extensive consultation with Aboriginal groups about a “definitional understanding of the voice”, before a referendum was considered.
“I want to look at the strategic approaches we take on many fronts including, in the long term, the referendum,” Mr Wyatt told The Australian.
“There are some options to consider. Governments have to consider – and it doesn’t matter whether it is our government or another government – they have to consider what is pragmatic and what is going to work.
“It is fine having a concept. But you have got to turn it into an implementable, real process.”
Senator Bernardi has told Paul Murray Live on Sky News recognition will do nothing to fix indigenous woes.