Legislative Council: Thursday, September 14, 2023


Question Time

Federal Voice to Parliament Referendum

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:18): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs regarding comments he made in this chamber on Wednesday 13 September 2023.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: On Wednesday 13 September, the Hon. Kyam Maher responded to a question I put to him concerning the federal Voice to Parliament. The honourable member stated that he had spoken to a lot of people in the community who have concerns about the Voice and they are, in the words of the honourable member, well-founded concerns. Based on the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of 'well founded' is anything that is based on facts or good reason. My question to the minister is: on what basis does he believe the reasons for concerns over the Voice are well founded?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:19): I don't have the exact words I used yesterday. Depending on the exact words I used, the intention was probably better described as well meaning, so that is how I will describe them today.

People have had, no doubt, well-meaning concerns about the Voice, and on many occasions a lot of them are based on incomplete information. As I said yesterday, in speaking to people, in my experience where it is explained what is proposed with the alteration to the constitution—that is, the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution through a Voice to government and parliament that is an advisory body only—the vast majority of the time those well-meaning concerns are dissipated.