Television Interview – ABC TV News Breakfast

Minister for Indigenous Australians

HOST, LISA MILLAR: Well, Australians now know what question they’ll be asked later this year at the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice into the Constitution. The Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney joins us now from Parliament. House. Minister Great to have you on News breakfast.


HOST, LISA MILLAR: It was clearly a very emotional day yesterday for you and others. What now, though, is going to get this cross the line for you?

MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, LINDA BURNEY: Well, it was an incredibly emotional and important day. I think that was obvious from just watching the news conference. The next step, of course, is introducing the Alteration Bill into the Parliament next week. But what this is absolutely about, Lisa, is about recognition and listening and there is absolutely nothing to fear from this referendum. And for people watching this morning, it is about finally recognising the incredible history that we have in this country of 65,000 years. And it’s about making sure that we put something in place that is going to mean a change in the life outcomes of First Nations people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country.

HOST, LISA MILLAR: Eight of only 44 referendums have succeeded since Federation. I know you don’t need to hear that repeated from me, but can this succeed without bipartisan support? Or do you really need Peter Dutton to come on board as well?

MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, LINDA BURNEY: I would like to see Mr Dutton come on board, but this is about building. This is about all Australians and every single person will have a vote. The referendum is going to happen, and I understand that the Liberal Party room will make a decision next week, but at the end of the day, that’s their decision. What I do know is that the party that I’m part of, the government and First Nations people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across this country, want this to happen, to improve life outcomes and to also unify us as a nation.

HOST, LISA MILLAR: When the voice, if it succeeds, that it’s able to make representations to executive government, what is that actually going to look like? Because the doubters and the critics have suggested we’re just going to see another layer of bureaucracy that gets bogged down.

MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, LINDA BURNEY: Well, I am sure that over the next six or seven, eight months, that we are going to see lots of misinformation, lots of disinformation and potentially scare campaigns. What I can say to our watchers this morning is that this has been a rigorous process. We have sought and received advice from the best legal minds in this country and the Cabinet approved the Working Group’s preferred set of words and they are very close to what the Prime Minister advanced at Garma, almost seven or eight months ago now. So I can assure everyone there is absolutely nothing to fear from this Voice. It will mean better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. And every single Australian understands that a 10 year gap in life expectancy is not acceptable in this country. But it will also mean something for everyone. Every single Australian will be able to walk prouder and taller the Sunday after referendum day.

HOST, LISA MILLAR: Minister, you talk about the best legal minds. One of those was the Solicitor General who offered advice. The Opposition is asking for his advice to be made public. Will you do that?

MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, LINDA BURNEY: Well, the convention is, there has been a convention for a very long time, is that the advice of the Solicitor General is not released. But obviously this will be a decision of the Prime Minister and it will be a decision of the Attorney-General. But the most important thing to understand, and Mr Dutton knows this, he knows it very well that we have gone through, as I said, an incredibly rigorous process. We’ve had an SC on the working group, we’ve had an expert legal team advising the Working Group. And I can assure you that the words that we’ve ended up settling on, in terms of the question and the amendments to the Constitution are absolutely meaningful. They are correct and we will be proceeding with those words.

HOST, LISA MILLAR: Linda Burney, thank you for your time this morning.

MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, LINDA BURNEY: Thank you so much and have a great day.

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