Peter Dutton slams Voice, warning of ‘Orwellian’ ramifications with ‘Animal Farm’


Peter Dutton has launched a scorched Earth attack on Labor’s Voice to Parliament warning it could have ‘Orwellian’ consequences. 

The Opposition Leader said the referendum could ‘have an Orwellian effect where all Australians are equal, but some Australians are more equal than others’ – a direct reference to George Orwell’s satirical novella from 1945, Animal Farm.

The emotive language in the House of Representatives on Monday sparked fierce backlash from Minister for Indigenous Affairs Linda Burney, who said critics were ‘hellbent on dashing the hopes of the people’ and ‘stoking division’.

Ms Burney urged her colleagues on all sides of the debate to avoid ‘playing politics on an issue that should be above partisan politics’.

Mr Dutton is one of about 70 speakers who intend to speak in Parliament this week on the Constitutional Alteration Bill – the legislation which will pave the way for the Voice referendum.

The Opposition Leader said the referendum could 'have an Orwellian effect where all Australians are equal, but some Australians are more equal than others'

The Opposition Leader said the referendum could ‘have an Orwellian effect where all Australians are equal, but some Australians are more equal than others’

In scathing comments on Monday, he said: ‘The Voice is regressive, not progressive.

‘Because if Australians vote for change then our nation, our democracy, and their lives will be fundamentally altered. And in this case, not for the better. Changing our Constitution to enshrine a Voice will take our country backwards not forwards.

‘And it should be very clear to Australians by now that the Prime Minister is dividing our country not uniting us.

‘If Australians have buyer’s remorse the Voice comes with a no-return policy. It’s here to stay in it. This institution hasn’t even been road-tested.’

Mr Dutton also criticised the government for ‘preferring Australians to be incurious’ about the debate, accusing politicians of ‘dismissing reasonable and legitimate concerns as a scare campaign’.

Ms Burney urged her colleagues on all sides of the debate to avoid 'playing politics on an issue that should be above partisan politics'

Ms Burney urged her colleagues on all sides of the debate to avoid ‘playing politics on an issue that should be above partisan politics’

The Coalition will not stand in the way of the referendum proceeding, despite opposing the Voice itself.

The bill on the Voice will finalise the wording that would be placed in the constitution should the referendum succeed, and the question that would be put to voters.

The referendum is due to be held between October and December this year.

Debate on the Voice follows the release of a parliamentary committee report on the bill, which recommended it pass without changes.

The Liberal party accepts and advocates for recognition for Indigenous people, but are seeking an amendment which would exclude constitutional changes.

But Ms Burney said it is ‘time for recognition’.   

‘It’s time for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to the parliament, because (they) have not enjoyed the same opportunities of so many other Australians,’ she told parliament.

Mr Dutton made reference to George Orwell's satirical novella from 1945, Animal Farm

Mr Dutton made reference to George Orwell’s satirical novella from 1945, Animal Farm

‘Constitutional recognition through a voice to the parliament is about giving Indigenous Australians a say in matters that affect us. It means delivering structural change.’

Ms Burney said the process to establish the voice had not been rushed, instead being developed over many years with the support of Indigenous people and outlined in the 2017 Uluru statement.

While concerns have been raised on the voice being able to advise executive government, the minister said the approach was the right one.

‘It recognises 65,000 years of Australian history, makes our system of government stronger. It makes a practical difference on the ground,’ she said.

A vote on the bill is expected to be held in the lower house next week, before debate shifts to the Senate.

Liberal MP Keith Wolahan, who was part of a parliamentary committee examining the bill on the referendum, said concerns about the voice should not be dismissed.

‘We know that well-meaning Australians will hold views that do not align with the press releases of their corporate employer, their professional associations, their sporting codes, or the views of their family, their friends and their political party,’ he said.

‘(Those who spoke against the voice are) not afflicted by subconscious racism or bedwetting, or the odious slur ‘Judas betrayal’. They are our fellow Australians.’

What we know about the Voice to Parliament so far 

Here, Daily Mail Australia looks at some of the key questions about the Voice so far, and how the government has tackled them:

What kind of advice can the Voice provide the Parliament and Government?

The Voice will advise on matters that directly relate to Indigenous people.

It will respond to requests made by the government, while also having the power to engage proactively on matters that they believe impact them. 

The group will have its own resources to research matters and engage with communities at a grassroots level to ensure it is best reflecting their needs.

How will members of the Voice be chosen?

Members of the Voice will be appointed by Indigenous communities and will serve on the committee for a fixed period of time, yet to be determined.

The way the communities choose their representatives will be agreed upon by the local communities in tandem with the government as part of a ‘post referendum process’ to ensure cultural legitimacy. 

Who can become a member of the committee?

Members of the Voice must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

They will be chosen from across each state and territory and have balanced gender representation nationally.

The government has also guaranteed that young people will be included in the committee to ensure representation across the broad scope of the community. 

Will the Voice be transparent? 

The government states the Voice will be subject to scrutiny and reporting requirements to ensure it is held accountable and remains transparent.

Voice members will be held to standards of the National Anti-Corruption Commission and will be sanctioned or removed from the committee if there are any findings of misconduct.

Will the Voice have veto power?

No. 

Will the Voice work independently of other government bodies?

The committee must respect the work and role of existing organisations, the government says.

Will the Voice handle any funds?

The Voice will not directly manage any money or deliver any services to the community.

Its sole role will be in making representations about improving existing government programs and services, and advising on new ideas coming through the parties.

Australians will be asked whether they support the establishment of the Voice to Parliament to recognise Indigenous people in the Constitution. The government has set aside $364.6million in this Budget for the referendum.

The vote will need support from the majority of Australians in the majority of states to be successful. 

The Voice will establish a body that can ‘make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’. 

This body – comprised of Indigenous people from a range of ages and demographics – would give advice to the government. 

But critics argue it’s unclear exactly what they could advise on.

As it stands, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has reassured the public that members of the Voice will be appointed by and within Indigenous communities.

Mr Albanese appeared on the verge of tears on at least five occasions as he announced the question

Anthony Albanese surrounded by members of the First Nations Referendum Working Group

They will serve on the committee ‘for a fixed period of time’, which is yet to be determined. 

The way the communities choose their representatives will be agreed upon by the local communities in tandem with the government as part of a ‘post referendum process’ to ensure cultural legitimacy, he said.

If a majority of Australians vote in favour of the Voice, the Constitution would be amended as follows: 

1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;

2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; 

3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions powers and procedures. 

Mr Albanese said he was aware holding a referendum ‘is a risk’, given ‘they usually don’t succeed’.

He said earlier this year: ‘The people here can’t wait. They can’t. They’ve waited so long. They’ve waited a long time for justice, this is something where they’re making such a modest request. I do feel a responsibility.

‘I’m not here to occupy the space, I’m here to change the country. There’s nowhere more important in changing the country than in changing the constitution to recognise the fullness of our history.

‘I want this for all Australians. We’ll feel better about ourselves if we get this done. The truth is, Australia will be seen as a better nation in the rest of the world. Our position in the world matters.’

A survey shows slightly more than half of Australians back the Voice, but the percentage of people who intend to vote ‘yes’ has dropped from 58 per cent to 53 per cent over the past month. 

The polling, by Resolve Strategic for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, reveals the ‘no’ campaign is on track to win if the trend continues. 

Mr Albanese said: 'I'm not here to occupy the space, I'm here to change the country. There's nowhere more important in changing the country than in changing the constitution to recognise the fullness of our history'

Mr Albanese said: ‘I’m not here to occupy the space, I’m here to change the country. There’s nowhere more important in changing the country than in changing the constitution to recognise the fullness of our history’ 



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