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Aboriginal leader says Australia's voice referendum should be called off

The Aboriginal leader said Voice to Parliament referendum is causing harm and division and needs to be called off. (Photo by AAP)

An Australian senator of Aboriginal origin has said the country’s planned referendum on an Indigenous “voice” to parliament is just “window dressing” and should be called off. 

Lidia Thorpe, who is an independent Australian senator and one of the most prominent Aboriginal politicians, voiced her opposition to the proposal at the National Press Club in Sydney on Wednesday.

“The voice is the window-dressing for constitutional recognition,” she told reporters, News Corporation reported.

“This is just another attempt by a colonial government to make clear that it has power over us, and force its rules upon us,” she added.

Thorpe, who is from the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Victorian group, happens to be the granddaughter of the Indigenous matriarch Alma Thorpe.

Voicing her opposition she further added that the referendum should be called off.

“It has caused nothing but harm and division. And, for what? There won’t be change until this society changes. Until this society’s thinking, values, attitudes and systems have been revolutionized in order to ensure real self-determination, we cannot continue the legacy of the Australian colony.”

Indigenous Australians who have been living in the country for thousands of years have been struggling for generations to get recognition.

The population has suffered since European colonization, which had a devastating impact on Aboriginal communities and cultures.

The British colonizers subjected the native Australians to mass killings, forced displacement, and their traditional lands were grabbed in the name of family protection, integration, and civilization.

Condemning Australia's connection to the British monarchy, Thorpe said, “Australia doesn’t belong to the Crown, Come on, it never has, It should be handed back to the First Peoples whose land it is.”  

Comprising less than 4 percent of Australia's population, the Indigenous Australians account for more than a quarter of the prison population.

In the past three decades, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in the police custody, according to official data.

It is important to mention that the constitution of Australia, which came into effect in January 1901, does not recognize Indigenous Australians.

Lidia Thrope said that the proposal is not enough to address the longstanding issues that the   Aboriginal people are facing. (Photo by Getty Images)

The proposal that will be put up for referendum between October and December this year plans to establish an advisory body - the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

“We’re being conned and set up and it’s not good enough. Two-hundred and thirty years and they give us a voiceless, powerless advisory body that has parliamentary supremacy over it at all times,” Thorpe noted.

The government needs to secure a double majority in the referendum, which equals 50 percent of votes nationwide.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government supports the change; however, the opposition parties have been raising objections.

“I’m investing and campaigning on … an alternate way forward from the voice, which is peace and treaty,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Thorpe said that while she was opposed to a “yes” vote, she would not actively campaign for a “no” vote either.


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