Thursday September 21, 2023

Australian PM condemns fear tactics in Indigenous vote

May 30, 2023

SYDNEY: Australia´s prime minister took a swipe on Monday at conservative “doomsayers” using fear tactics ahead of a referendum to give Indigenous people a voice on laws that affect them.

Debate on the so-called Voice has turned increasingly acrimonious, with supporters decrying deliberate disinformation and opponents saying it risks opening a racial divide. If passed, Indigenous Australians -- whose ancestors have lived on the continent for at least 60,000 years -- would have a constitutionally enshrined right to be consulted by the government on laws that impact their community.

More than 200 years since British colonisation and the ensuing persecution of Indigenous people, they remain greatly disadvantaged with higher incarceration and jobless rates, and a life expectancy about eight years shorter than that of other Australians.

In a keynote speech in Adelaide on Monday, Prime Minister Albanese said Australian voters face a “profound choice” when they go to the polls sometime later this year. A yes vote, he said, would allow Australians to proclaim to themselves, and to the world, “we are a mature nation coming to terms with our history, assured of our values, and shaping our own destiny.” It will be, he said, a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to change the country for the better. “We sometimes speak of ourselves as a young nation, but the truth is we are one of the world´s oldest democracies.