Peter Dutton Promises Referendum on Indigenous Recognition if Voice is Defeated

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has pledged to hold a referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians if the Voice fails in the upcoming ballot and he wins the next election. He supports the idea of “regional voices” and the recognition of First Australians as alternatives to a Voice written into the Constitution. Dutton criticized the government for not providing enough detail on how their proposal would work, using the Yes campaign’s use of the song “You’re the Voice” by John Farnham as an example. He believes that most Australians do not understand the proposal and want to be better informed.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has described the Voice as an “advisory committee” chosen by Indigenous people but has not specified the number of members or how they would be elected. In response to a report by Indigenous leaders Tom Calma and Marcia Langton, Dutton stated that the Coalition would negotiate the creation of local and regional consultation groups if the October referendum fails and the Coalition wins the next election.

Dutton strongly believes that recognizing Indigenous people in the Constitution through a referendum is the right thing to do, but he does not support enshrining a Voice in the Constitution. He argues that it would be divisive and hinder government decision-making. In contrast, Albanese warned that voting against the Voice would result in a halt to progress on closing the gap and would prevent moving forward.

These recent comments by Dutton indicate that another referendum on Indigenous recognition may be held if the Voice is defeated on October 14.