With Parliament returning this week the debate around the Indigenous Voice to Parliament is escalating.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has accused Opposition leader Peter Dutton of “undermining the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders” while Mr Dutton accused the Labor Leader of “splitting the nation down the middle.”
The debate came to a head during Question Time when the coalition bombarded the government with questions regarding the possibility of a future national treaty.
Mr Albanese has been adamant that work on a treaty won’t begin this parliamentary term, despite the federal budget setting aside 5.8 million dollars for the Makarrata truth telling and treaty commission last year.
Mr Dutton accused both Mr Albanese and Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney of misleading the Australian public by not providing enough detail on the Voice to Treaty process.
“Every Australian wants a better outcome for Indigenous Australians. Every Australian was to see a better outcome in Alice Springs.
But the voice is not going to deliver that practical support on the ground, because it is a Canberra voice and a voice for the elite of this country.
Does the prime minister have any coherent explanation to the Australian public as to how the voice will work?” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Dutton continued to say the Voice would cause divide across the country.
The government has said that the final structure of the Voice would be determined if it goes into the constitution, planning to legislate the proposed advisory body after.
In response Mr Albanese claimed the Coalition “decided to stick to division,” noting that Mr Dutton had walked out during the 2008 Apology to Stolen Generations.
Mr Dutton has since apologised multiple times, but the government has pointed to Kevin Rudd’s apology as positive example of reconciliation that brought the country together.
Mr Albanese then accused the coalition of “hypocrisy” over their support for a legislated Voice to Parliament but not a constitutionally enshrined one.
“You can’t say it will change the entire system of government and then say you will legislate the voice. Because that is what [they] are saying. You can’t say it will promote racial division and then say you will legislate for the voice,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister publicly invited Mr Dutton to attend this weekend’s Garma Festival.
The Opposition Leader declined on Sydney’s 2GB radio saying the festival would be a “love-in for the ‘Yes’ advocates.
Albanese has since urged Mr Dutton to “Talk with Indigenous Australians, move away from his dirt unit and sit in the red dirt in Arnhem Land.”