Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, has welcomed the announcement of 14 October 2023 as the date for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament Referendum.
“The policies and programs of Australian governments for First Nations people have consistently failed,” Mr Wilkie said. “Indeed 11 of the 15 Closing the Gap targets are not on track, and shamefully some are actually going backwards. First Nations people continue to have lower life expectancies, lower educational outcomes, and higher suicide rates than non-Indigenous Australians. They also continue to be overwhelmingly over-represented in the criminal justice system.
“To break this cycle, we must change the way we do things. Business as usual is simply not an option any longer. This is why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have asked the Australian people to make a positive change by establishing a Voice in the Constitution.
“If the Referendum is successful, amendments to the functions, powers, composition and procedures of the Voice will be permissible through legislation. But enshrining the Voice within the Constitution gives the Voice security and certainty, as it could only be abolished through another referendum.
“This is why it is so important that we alter the Constitution to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a Voice which will enable them to have a meaningful say in the laws and policies that affect them. It is because of this I support a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament and why I will be voting yes in the Referendum on 14 October.”