There is “no Plan-B” if Australians reject the Voice to parliament referendum, a senior Labor figure has warned.
Labor senator Tony Sheldon, the chair of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee, told Central News the ‘no’ campaign had been duped into a course of inaction and it would be a missed opportunity if the ‘yes’ vote did not succeed.
“It’s unfortunate to see so many within the Liberal Party duped by the radical right of inaction,” he said.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to get it right, this has the makings for building a wonderfully better society.
“No one’s organising for a Plan-B, we’re organising for a referendum vote.”
It’s been a little over a year since Anthony Albanese’s election night promise to First Nations Peoples, when he told the country: “On behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.”
However, since March 22 when the Prime Minister announced the proposed wording for this year’s referendum, the public has been assailed by increasingly mixed messages on the purported benefits and risks of an Indigenous Voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution.
There’s always a need to rebalance society so people can become equal partners coming to the table.
Senator Sheldon, who has spent the best part of his working life fighting for social causes through parliament and his work within the union movement, said while the political landscape was very divided he welcomed the Greens approach.
“Credit to the Greens after Lidia decided to radicalise the opposition rather than bringing people together,” he added, referring to rogue senator Lidia Thorpe, who quit the Greens over her position in favour of a Treaty and against the Voice.
“There’s always a need to rebalance society so people can become equal partners coming to the table, so they can make a community where everyone can share their stories and outcomes together.
“Heaven forbid, we are having an argument about whether we should be bringing people together!”
Recent coverage of national polls by The Guardian shows a dive in support for the Voice, suggesting the popularity of the proposed constitutional change has slipped by 15 per cent over the past year.
But unfazed, and even amused by “the circus”, the senator laughed: “The solution is not having the answer.”
Senator Sheldon said people need to continue having conversations about the Voice in the community, as well as personal conversations among family and friends.
“You’ve got to engage the disempowered themselves to get sustainable change,” he said. “It’s heartening to see that there are people on different ends of the political spectrum standing up knowing that there is a right thing to do.”
Main image supplied. Tony Sheldon, in hat and glasses, pictured under the ‘Yes’ banner in main group.