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"They should have had a solid No or a solid Yes" - Warren Mundine weighs in on Voice debate

Callan Morse -

Proud Bundjalung man Warren Mundine has campaigned for decades on Indigenous rights through the promotion of education and economic empowerment of First Nations Australians.

So it may be of surprise that he is staunchly opposed to a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice to parliament.

Mr Mundine says he will be voting "no" in the Indigenous Voice referendum, to be held towards the end of 2023, due to his concerns surrounding possible litigation should an Indigenous Voice be enshrined in Australia's constitution.

"Does this (the Voice) go to the High Court, does it open it up to litigation and many of the lawyers, and the judges who support the "yes" campaign say 'yes, it does'," Mr Mundine told the National Indigenous Times.

"There are other lawyers and judges who say 'no it doesn't', so that's a really contentious area."

Mr Mundine said his "liberal values" prevent him from supporting a change to Australia's constitution which, from his perspective, would allow a specific group of people an advantage in comparison to other members of Australian society.

"Are we opening up our constitution to a set of people no matter who they are, a set of people who will have access to more power than ordinary citizens out there," he said.

"As a liberal we can't accept that. All citizens are equal, and that's what we accept."

Mr Mundine is in agreeance with the opposition's proposed acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution and also supports a legislated local and regional Voice ahead of an enshrined national Voice model, due to what he calls the gap being between 'black and black'.

"I've been writing for years about how we should be focusing on the local and regional areas because that's where the real fight for closing the gap is going to be," he said.

"The gap isn't between black and white there. It is really, between black and black. You've got Aboriginals in the major cities doing very well, and you've got Aboriginals in the region and remote areas not doing very well."

However the long-time Liberal Party member remains unsupportive of the current Liberal Voice policy, 'disappointed' with the decision the party made in allowing Liberal backbenchers a conscience vote on the Voice referendum.

"The backbench is allowed to vote the way they want to vote. There's a handful of them … who will be voting differently," he said.

"That's the philosophy and the historical way things are done within the Liberal Party. I don't agree with it. They should have had a solid 'no' or a solid 'yes'."

Mr Mundine said he is not concerned about the possibility of a legislated Voice being repealed by future governments, suggesting there are falsehoods associated with the current Voice debate, citing "reconciliation will be destroyed" in the event of a no vote and "if you don't support the voice, you're a racist".

He said his Recognise A Better Way campaign was based on ensuring a fair, equal and respectful debate ahead of the first referendum in more than two decades.

"This campaign is about Australia and how it moves into the future, and it should be done in a civil, proper manner," he said.

"People should not be jumping up and down and on both sides. We can't have that sort of vitriolic public battles because that is that will split this nation, there's no doubt about that.

"If... people like Bridget Archer, or Senator Bragg … are standing on the platform beside us saying "yes" to the campaign, that's the way it is. We'll do it in a civil and proper way," he said.

"My argument is you can make your decision to say yes, you can make a decision to say no, but listen to both sides."

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