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Noel Pearson says "new settlement" of unity presents with a Yes vote on Voice

Jarred Cross -

Noel Pearson says a shared love of country, of the land, unites all Australians and drives the motivation for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The prominent Voice campaigner advocated for a "new settlement" of understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through a Voice to Parliament in his National Press Club address on Wednesday.

His speech came after leading no campaigner Warren Mundine outlined his opposition to the proposal on Tuesday.

In the lead up to October's referendum, Mr Pearson has engaged with communities around the country and pointed to what he said is a "gift" in front of the nation.

He said it come as no surprise Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples largely don't know one another due to the population disparity, but made the case to move beyond a more connected nation.

Mr Pearson asked for the 97 per cent of non-Indigenous people to come along for a journey.

"When you bring your children to come to know our children, they will each be the better for it. That is the promise of the future," he said.

"It is not inequality to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were the owners of Australia since time immemorial. It is simply the truth.

"We can move forward from protest and reminder to mutual recognition. I want for our national prayer to be 'this land is my land. This land is your land. This land is our land.'"

In previous, recent Press Club addresses, Mr Mundine and Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price expressed their want for practical solutions towards addressing issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in place of the Voice.

Mr Pearson said the Voice provide an avenue.

"We can close the gap when we are empowered to take responsibility for our destiny," he said.

"Voting no is not a neutral choice. Voting no is an active choice to take us nowhere."

Mr Pearson highlighted rheumatic heart disease in his community within the Cape York and other remote communities across the northern part of Australia.

He cited doctors who have said the disease kills two Aboriginal people a week despite being "largely eradicated in the rest of the world", and accused long-time Cape York and Torres Strait MP Warren Entsch of failing to bring it to attention of Parliament over 26 years.

"He did for the first time when I mentioned this in this campaign. This is a problem only a voice can overcome; to ensure people who represent us, who make laws about us, who determine so much of the reality of our lives, listen to our advice and have the opportunity to benefit from the power of our ideas," Mr Pearson said.

"It is a disease of the un-listened to…of a people who have spoken but not been listened to.

"Will you work with us on this journey to a better future? It is time to take our rightful place in our own land."

Mr Pearson said the Voice is critical to helping Indigenous people in community "advocate to government on these crucial issues" while the no campaign "has no solutions".


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