13 September 2023

Support for an Indigenous voice to parliament has grown into a powerful movement of over 30,000 volunteers. It is one of the fastest-growing grassroots movements our nation has ever seen. This weekend 'yes' supporters will be turning out in droves across the country to walk in support of the Voice. This Sunday, in my own electorate of Corangamite, I will join First Nations people, business owners and community members from across Geelong and Victoria to walk the Barwon Heads bridge. This will be an opportunity for our community to come together and show we recognise 65,000 years of continuous Indigenous culture, to unite with others from across the state to express support for a voice to parliament and to join a nationwide movement and show our commitment for a 'yes' vote in the referendum.

On 14 October every Australian will have a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our country together and change it for the better. Many Australians want to vote yes so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are recognised in the Constitution and can give advice to government on the significant issues affecting their lives because we know that at the moment a young Indigenous man is more likely to go to jail than to university, and we know that a young Indigenous woman is more likely to lose a child in childbirth compared to a young non-Indigenous woman. These statistics are horrendous. Closing the gap is not working when it comes to education, housing and health outcomes for our First Nations Australians, and that's why our First Nations leaders from across the country have invited all of us, through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to walk united to enable practical and lasting change that will improve the lives of First Nations people.

This is an offer supported by more than 80 per cent of First Nations Australians. Despite this, many of those opposite and those from the 'no' campaign have set out to undermine the offer made and supported by First Nations people. Yesterday, the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age spelt out the dishonest strategy of the 'no' campaign. It reported that 'no' campaigners were being directed to pretend to care and to impersonate a concerned Australian while doing everything possible to sow fear and doubt. Volunteers were told to avoid the facts and, unbelievably, that they shouldn't identify themselves as 'no' vote campaigners. This is fearmongering, this is dishonest and this is disgraceful, even for Advance Australia, which is not surprisingly driven by former Liberal Prime Minister Anthony Abbott.

Yesterday our Prime Minister stood in this chamber and called out 'no' campaign misinformation. He read the following:

'The Voice to Parliament will affect every property owner. The United Nations has given the Australian government a mandate of ownership for all housing, property, farms and businesses countrywide the United Nations will own all Australian land.'

This is sheer absurdity. It is untrue and it is deceitful. Nowhere in the Solicitor-General's advice, nor in the design principles for the Voice, has there been any reference to a UN takeover of Australia. It is laughable.

As the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Minister for Indigenous Australians have all said, the Voice will simply be an advisory body, one that will exist in perpetuity, one that no government can take away with the stroke of a pen. Through this referendum, First Nations people are offering a hand outstretched. It is an act of faith in the Australian sense of decency and fairness from people who have been given every reason to forsake their hope in both. I truly believe that as a nation we will grasp that hand of healing. We will repay that faith, and we will rise to the moment because we are a generous people. We believe in justice and we believe in opportunity for all. By voting yes as a nation, we have absolutely everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.