NSW Opposition Leader Backs Indigenous Voice, Citing Potential Rewards Over Risks

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In a surprising move, Mark Speakman, the opposition leader of New South Wales, has lent his support to the proposed Indigenous parliamentary representation, emphasising that the potential benefits significantly surpass the possible drawbacks.

Speakman’s endorsement places him among the state Liberal leaders favouring the initiative, alongside Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff. Yet, the Liberal Party’s internal landscape remains intricate, marked by varying viewpoints.

“We live in a great country, but our poor, and often disastrous, outcomes for Indigenous Australians are our nation’s greatest public policy failure,” Speakman said.

Western Australian Liberals leader Libby Mettam reversed her position, now planning to vote against the proposal, attributing her change to recent cultural heritage law controversies in her state.

Amidst unwavering resistance from fellow state Liberal leaders, Victorian opposition leader John Pesutto adopted a distinct approach. While not disclosing his stance openly, he pledges a free vote for party members.

Meanwhile, Speakman’s endorsement comes amidst statements from Peter Dutton, who expressed his determination to push for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians. Notably, this policy has eluded the Coalition during its nine-year tenure.

Dutton’s position, however, is met with scepticism by opposition leader Anthony Albanese. He pointed out that Dutton had been part of a government for almost a decade, during which the issue needed to be adequately advanced.

“The idea that Peter Dutton is going to advance this issue after he presided over a process in which he pretends that this has just arisen in recent times is quite frankly…disingenuous,” Albanese said.

The ongoing discussions have led to calls for a revised referendum structure, including two separate questions – one focusing on constitutional recognition and the other on establishing the voice.

Despite recent polling indicating uncertainty about the referendum’s success, Speakman’s decision to endorse the voice is significant in promoting a more inclusive and fair national discourse.

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