Canberra, April 5 (IANS) Australia’s opposition party on Wednesday announced it will not support the government’s proposal to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Peter Dutton, the leader of the Liberal Party, said after a special meeting on Wednesday that an overwhelming majority of the federal party had decided to oppose it, reports Xinhua news agency.
It is expected that Australians will head to the polls in the second half of 2023 to vote on proposed changes to the constitution that would formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the country’s founding document and establish the Indigenous Voice.
If successful, the voice would advise the federal parliament on issues relating to Indigenous people.
Dutton said that the Liberal Party room supported recognition of Indigenous people in the constitution but opposed enshrining the consultative voice, instead calling for a legislated local voice mechanism.
He said that a handful of Liberal members could campaign in favour of a yes vote in the referendum but that he would actively join the “no” campaign.
The announcement is a blow to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, a strong proponent of the voice, who had called for unity in favour of the referendum.
For a referendum to be successful, a simple majority of all voters in addition to a majority in at least four out of six states must vote in favoru.
According to a poll published by News Corp Australia on Wednesday, more than 50 per cent of voters in five out of six states support the proposal.
Nationally, 54 per cent of 4,756 respondents said they intended to vote yes on the referendum while 38 per cent were opposed.
Over-65s were the only age group where more than half of respondents said they are against the proposal.