Barnaby Joyce sensationally targeted the government by voting in Parliament, insisting it was not racist to vote against the motion.
After months of consultations, the federal government revealed the wording of the referendum question and proposed a constitutional change in an emotional news conference Thursday morning.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has made a tearful plea to Australians to support The Voice, which is set for a vote between October and December this year.
Just hours later on the floor of parliament, the former national leader issued a sensational statement accusing the government of being “aggressive” by not releasing more details about the body.
“I say they don’t trust you. If they don’t trust you (disclosure of details), don’t trust them with your vote,” he said.
Voting no is not racist.
His speech was met with an outcry from Labor MPs who entered the room before question time.
Ann Ali, Minister of Early Childhood Care, exclaimed, “You are a disgrace.”
Cabinet gave the question and proposed wording a rubber stamp Thursday morning after the Referendum Working Group delivered its advice on Wednesday.
The government will present the constitutional amendment bill to Parliament next Thursday for a vote no later than June.
Like Mr Joyce, Liberal leader Peter Dutton remains unconvinced by the proposal.
Asked what level of detail he could persuade, the Leader of the Opposition claimed that answering the list of fifteen questions he had written for Mr Albanese would be a good start.
“If you’re proposing a very important change to our founding document, how are you going to get practical results for Indigenous Australians? If you can’t provide those details, then he should explain why,” he said.
“Not only are millions of non-Aboriginal Australians wanting details, but many, many Australians of Indigenous heritage also want details and I don’t think it’s being over-asked.”
While the Liberals have not yet confirmed their position, the federal citizens announced last year that they would not support the vote.
Mr Joyce has long opposed the proposal to introduce a First Nations advisory body to Parliament, falsely claiming that he would form a Third Chamber of Parliament after the Uluru Heart Manifesto.
Two years later, he admitted his characterization was wrong.
“If I’m wrong, I apologize. There you are. Unreserved,” he told ABC in 2019.
“What I’m saying is, we have – we have to get this debate going… move the debate forward successfully. There is no point in going to a referendum on something that won’t work.”
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