Durack MP Melissa Price backs Liberal Party opposition to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament

Jamie ThannooGeraldton Guardian
Durack MP Melissa Price has backed the Liberal Party’s opposition to an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Camera IconDurack MP Melissa Price has backed the Liberal Party’s opposition to an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Credit: Cain Andrews/Broome Advertiser/RegionalHUB

Durack MP Melissa Price, the Federal representative for northern WA, has backed the Liberal Party’s stance against the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Ms Price said she supported an amendment to the Australian Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s first custodians, but not the current proposal being put forward by the Albanese Government for a consultative body to represent Indigenous people on a national level.

It comes after Liberal leader Peter Dutton announced his party’s opposition to the Voice to Parliament, confirming he would actively campaigning for “No” in the referendum to be held later this year.

The stance has caused divisions within an already fractured Liberal Party, with WA leader Libby Mettam defying the stance and former Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt quitting the party because of its decision to join the “No” camp.

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Ms Price said she did not believe the Voice to Parliament would be able to meaningfully represent Indigenous people from WA, but joined her party in supporting the creation of local and regional Voice groups.

“The important views of regional WA would be heard under the Liberals’ regional and local advisory bodies’ proposal,” she said.

“Under the Albanese ‘Voice’ model, I don’t believe it would be possible to secure meaningful Indigenous representation from regional WA.”

The structure of the Voice has not been officially determined, but under the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process Final Report from 2021 it was proposed each State and Territory, as well as the Torres Strait Islands, would have two representatives.

WA, as well the Northern Territory, Queensland, NSW and South Australia, would also receive an additional representative for their regional areas according to the proposal.

Ms Price said she does not believe three representatives would adequately represent WA.

“Given the size and the diversity of Indigenous voices throughout Western Australia, I do not believe this is nearly enough,” sje saod.

According to the 2021 census, there are 28,362 of Aboriginal ancestry in Durack, making up 14 per cent of its population and making Durack the electorate with the second highest Indigenous population.

“We all want Indigenous Australians to live a better life. The children to be healthy and to go to school and for the family home to be a safe place,” Ms Price said.

“I remain unconvinced that the the Government’s ‘Voice to Parliament’ model will facilitate these desperately required improvements.

“We need greater input from Indigenous locals on the ground who are aware of the exact problems in their communities.”

While Ms Price has backed the party’s decision, other Liberal voices such as State leader Libby Mettam, and former Indigenous Minister Ken Wyatt have gone against Mr Dutton and supported the voice.

“There is a diversity of opinions from all of Australia on the proposed Voice to Parliament,” she said.

“I support everyone’s right to their own opinion. What we do agree on though, is that more needs to be done to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians,”

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