‘Parliament remains supreme’: Albanese says the Voice will be denied veto power over government

Jul 20, 2023
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's fiery debate with 2GB radio's Ben Fordham over the Voice referendum. Source: Getty

No reparation payments and no Australia Day date change, these are the two things Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed will stay the same should the Yes vote win the Voice to Parliament referendum.

During a heated debate with 2GB’s Ben Fordham, Albanese was pressed on how far the government would follow through with the Voice’s advice.

Albanese was asked a series of hypothetical scenarios, including how the government would respond if the Voice advised them to change the date for Australia Day.

“What if 12 months down the track the Voice says we want to change the date of Australia Day? What do you say as prime minister?” Fordham asked.

Albanese replied, “Well, what we say is that we have no plans to change Australia Day … absolutely.”

Fordham then asked if the government would blatantly dismiss the Voice’s suggestion.

“Of course we will, if we don’t agree with them of course we will as is made very clear by the wording put forward is that the parliament remains supreme,” Albanese said.

“As one of the principles put forward and in the yes pamphlet makes it very clear, the Voice will not have the right of veto, government decision stays the same.”

When further questioned if the Voice could pressure the government to pay compensation for the impact Australia’s colonisation had on Indigenous Australians, the prime minister said “no”.

“I can’t say it any clearer,” Albanese said.

“Compensation has nothing to do with what people will vote on.”

Albanese went on to say “governance will make decisions based upon representation.”

“There won’t be someone sitting in the cabinet room. There won’t be someone who’s not elected sitting in the parliament,” he said.

“And that’s why I say this is a modest request. This is just an opportunity to listen.”

Fordham proceeded to tell Albanese to not “risk” pushing through with the referendum, saying that the “mildly popular voice is going to bring down the overwhelmingly popular and long overdue recognition for Indigenous Australians in the constitution”.

“Ben, I’m not risking it,” Albanese replied.

“What I’m doing is supporting recognition, supporting recognition in a way that will make a practical difference.

“We need better outcomes. We can’t just be doing things the same way and expect different results. That’s the definition of being dumb.

“If we just keep doing things the same way, we need to do things better, we need to listen to Indigenous Australians about matters that affect them.”

Early this month a survey, conducted by Newspoll, revealed that approximately 43 per cent of respondents would vote in favour of establishing the advisory body, while 47 per cent would vote against it. The remaining 11 per cent were either undecided or unaware of the issue.

Despite the poll results, Albanese has remained committed to proceeding with the referendum, dismissing suggestions to abandon it if the prospects of success become uncertain.

The official date for the referendum is yet to be announced, but the government intends to hold it sometime between September and December 2023. 
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