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Prime minister must build trust on Voice as concerns mount over cultural heritage assessments says David Littleproud

David Littleproud discusses the Prime Minister's referendum on Voice and Treaty, criticises lack of transparency, and voices concerns over cultural heritage assessments' impact on farmers.

By news@gippsland - 4th August 2023 - Back to News

The Sky News host Erin Molan asks the Nationals leader, David Littleproud, to join her in an interview, "Nationals leader, David Littleproud, join me now. David, thank you for your time. Now, he's referring specifically to you as Peter Dutton, isn't he?," she said.

Mr Littleproud said, "Oh, he is, but what the Prime Minister needs to understand, this is his Referendum. This is his question. The onus and responsibility is on him to demonstrate to the Australian people that they're going to change the constitution, make a significant change to the constitution, one that many will never see again in their lifetime."

The Federal Act grants a new Indigenous body extensive powers to halt or alter development, raising transparency concerns. Avoid overreaction and support common sense decisions

The Federal Act grants a new Indigenous body extensive powers to halt or alter development, raising transparency concerns. Avoid overreaction and support common sense decisions

Build public trust

So it's important for him to build trust. He builds trust with the Australian people by bringing them into his trust and opening up the details. He won't put the legislation of the mechanics of the Voice in parliament, not just for politicians to see, but for every Australian to see.

And then when he talks about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, at times he's conveniently forgotten. But it's three components. It's Voice, truth and treaty. And he needs to take the Australian people into his trust and tell us what is that journey towards the treaty and what does that look like?

What, how long will it take? What will it cost? What are his plans around that? And if he can't demonstrate that, if he won't bring the Australian people in his trust, then why should the Australian people trust him?

PM under pressure

Ms Molan asks, "I was watching question time yesterday. I clearly need more of a life. I don't have one though. But you were very fired up on this issue. And even watching the PM's face while Linda Burney was being questioned, he's under pressure with this, isn't he? He's been quite calm this afternoon at Garma. But he's under an immense amount of pressure."

Mr Littleproud replies, "But he can relieve himself of all that pressure if he comes clean and clearly articulates what this will look like to the Australian people. Now, The Nationals, we took a principal position some nine months ago because we are repeating the mistakes of the past. And that is ATSIC mark two. This isn't anything new, the Voice. We've been down this path before."

Constitutional process transparency

"And in fact, The Nationals represent the communities where that disadvantage is the most and we bear the scars of that representative body that we had last time. And he's also failed to bring the Australian people into this trust by having due process. When you change the constitution. You normally have a constitutional convention. Instead, he simply denied the Australian people that said that we'll just defer to the Uluru Statement of the Heart," he said.

"The constitution is owned by every Australian, not by just Indigenous Australians. And the Uluru Statement of the Heart is only from one court cohort of Australians. This is a serious decision for Australians to make, and they should have all the information. They should also be there as part of that journey and he should come clean, not only on the mechanics of the Voice, but also he should go further and be clear about the mechanics of the treaty and how far that will reach," he said.

Farmers face assessment

Ms Molan asks, "Moving on. A farmer in WA has been advised that he could be forced to pay up to a hundred thousand dollars for a cultural heritage assessment. Now, this comes after the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act came into effect, I think July 1, David. This amount of money would cripple most farmers, wouldn't it?"

Mr Littleproud said, "Well, it will and it will actually stifle investment. It's taken away investment confidence already in Western Australia in the pastoral sector. This means that anybody that digs a hole greater than 50 centimetres deep or lifts more than 20 kilograms of dirt off that property, must get a cultural heritage survey at $120 to $160 an hour, $1200 a day."

"And when you're talking vast distances and areas, you are looking at significant bills because if you want to put a fence up, there are kilometres of fencing that needs to be done, that will have to be served. When you have the federal government proposing to overlay this with federal laws and doing one this week on four occasions, Tanya Plibersek had every opportunity to rule out that they would have the need for cultural surveys for their Federal Act," he said.

Transparency in legislation

Mr Littleproud added, "And within that Federal Act, in the Options Paper, it clearly says that a new body, another Indigenous body, will have the power to prevent a development or actually have it redesigned. That's far reaching powers. And that's where the government needs to be transparent, and needs to take away this anxiety. The Western Australian laws will not be the national benchmark. And if Anthony Albanese can't do that, then he will continue to fuel the anxiety."

"No one's saying what happened at the Gorge in Western Australia is something that anyone supports. But you don't need to overreact and you don't need to overreach, you need to use common sense. Just let some common sense prevail and let them continue on that pathway without government fear," he said.

"You're talking about politicians and you're asking them to listen to common sense. David Littleproud, you are a more optimistic man than me, and I know you're a politician, so my apologies. Thank you so much for your time," Ms Molan said.

Pictures from David Littleproud MP Facebook page.


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