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"For a Voice, but against it": Linda Burney condemns Liberals' "clear as mud" position

Callan Morse -

Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has dismissed the Liberal Party's opposition to a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

Ms Burney said the Liberals' decision put politics ahead of the Australian people.

"The Australian people will decide this referendum, not politicians," Ms Burney said.

"The constitution is the people's document and only Australian people can change the constitution."

Ms Burney criticised the opposition's policy where opposition frontbenchers will be required to vote along party lines while backbench MPs and senators will be permitted a conscience vote.

"Mr Dutton doesn't know where he stands. Mr. Dutton is tying himself in knots," Ms Burney said.

"Apparently, he's for a Voice, but against it. His backbenchers won't be bound by this position. That's about as clear as mud."

Ms Burney said Mr Dutton's 'predictable' criticism of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was focused on politics ahead of the best interests of Indigenous Australians.

"Mr Dutton's criticism is predictable, but despite his obsession … with the Prime Minister, this is not about politicians," she said.

"This is about closing the gap, our guiding principle in this debate has been the Uluru Statement From the Heart."

Earlier, Mr Dutton said the opposition's legislated local and regional model would support regional voices, voices Ms Burney said would be amplified by a national, constitutionally enshrined Voice.

"I want to say loud and clear, loud and clear. The Labor government supports regional Voices," she said.

"The Voice will make sure that voices in remote and regional communities are heard. It's simply misleading for Mr Dutton to suggest anything otherwise."

The opposition leader has met with Prime Minister Albanese multiple times in the lead up to the Labor Party announcing the proposed wording of a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Ms Burney said if Mr Dutton truly supported the Voice, he would have made suggestions during the meetings.

"The Prime Minister has met with the Leader of the Opposition seven times," Ms Burney said.

"Seven times and not at one point did the Leader of the Opposition offer any changes to the amendments, changes to the words."

She also suggested if Mr Dutton believed in a Voice for Indigenous Australians, he would have voted in favour of the proposal during the Liberal's previous term of government.

"If Mr Dutton supported the Voice he would have supported Ken Wyatt's proposal in the Morrison government and he didn't," she said.

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