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NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs calls for reset on Indigenous Voice Yes campaign

Dechlan Brennan -

New South Wales Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, David Harris, has called on the Yes campaign for the Indigenous Voice to parliament to reset.

It comes in the wake of polling over the weekend showing support for the referendum is declining in NSW, and heading towards a defeat in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Guardian Australia reported that Harris, who was named Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty when the Chris Minns led Labor government was elected in March, said the referendum has been portrayed by many - both in the media and in the no camp - as the aspiration of Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party.

In reality, he said, it is a proposal from Aboriginal people to ensure they were included and considered.

"This has been put in a realm of, 'this is a view from a particular prime minister and a particular political party'. That's very wrong," Mr Harris said.

"Aboriginal people have worked on this for well over a decade. It is their referendum and cheap politics skewer the whole concept."

Mr Harris said that he was "a little bit saddened" in how the public debate was focused on politics, and that the yes campaign needed to "get back on track."

He said the poll, which was published in the Nine newspapers and showed 49 per cent support in NSW, was "always going to happen," but he expected it to rise again.

Mr Harris also praised members of the Liberal Party in NSW, including Matt Kean.

On the cross-parliamentary efforts by both major parties, Harris said that "there will be a united effort as we go forward to push the benefits of a yes vote."

Mr Kean has been vocal in his support for the Voice and earlier this month attended a speech with Indigenous leader Noel Pearson and federal MP Julian Leeser in his local seat of Hornsby.

"I'm voting yes because I believe the Voice will help create one Australia," Mr Kean said

"...where all Australians, and not some, will share the full birthright of what it means to be born in this wonderful land."

The Labor Party, led by Chris Minns, has committed to supporting the Voice.

Their Liberal counterparts have so far remained tight-lipped, with opposition leader, Mark Speakman, saying it would be up to each member to decide their position.

He said he would not be telling anyone else how to vote and would make his position clear in the near future.

The decline in polls has not worried Indigenous leaders on the yes campaign, with Noel Pearson saying that there was still plenty of time to recover.

"This is a battle between dark angels, dark devils, and better angels. We've got to find the better angels in our community … we've got a long time; we've got three months."


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