Perth Live with Oliver Peterson (and Patrick Gorman)

Friday 13 October 2023

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

Referendum, Voice, Patrick Gorman, Michaelia Cash

SPEAKERS

Patrick Gorman, Senator Cash, Oliver Peterson

E&OE

Oliver Peterson

By this time tomorrow, polls will have just started to close in the Eastern states as Australia decides on the Voice. For the referendum to pass, four states have to say “Yes.” The opinion polls are predicting that will not happen. The question that you are being asked, “A Proposed Law: To alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve of this proposed alteration?” Yes or no? That is all we are being asked tomorrow. You can have your say in our poll this afternoon here on 6PR. Call up, cast your votes (on) one double three, eight, eighty two, because it is time for the final pitches. And from the Yes side, I’m pleased to say that I’m joined by the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and the Labor member for Perth, Patrick Gorman, in the studios today. Welcome to 6PR.

Patrick Gorman

Thank you, Ollie, and hello to your listeners.

Oliver Peterson

And from the No side is the Shadow Attorney General and the WA Liberal Senator, Michaelia Cash, on the phone. Good to have you back on the program, good afternoon.

Senator Cash

Great to be with you, Ollie. Great to be with you.

Oliver Peterson

Now we’ll hear a pitch from each side who will be given just four minutes each to make their point and the opportunity to rebut each other. So Patrick, you’re first, go ahead.

Patrick Gorman (check against delivery)

Ollie, I want to start by sharing a little story I learned during this campaign with your listeners. And that’s the story of Irwin Lewis, your listeners might know him as part of the 1964 side who paid for the claim on targets. He was part of that premiership team. But some seven years earlier, he was the first student first Aboriginal students to ever attend the University of Western Australia. And if I think about that, over the last 65 years, we’ve come so far as a state. We’ve had Colin Barnett, ensure that we’ve got constitutional recognition for Aboriginal Australians in the state constitution. We’ve had the Liberal Party deliver the first Aboriginal man into the House of Representatives and Ken Wyatt, first Aboriginal minister for Indigenous Affairs. We’ve come so far, and this referendum is the next logical step. So if I think for all listeners who have an important decision to make tomorrow, what I’d say is you’ve got a choice. Do you want to stand with Ken Wyatt and Patrick Dodson the two real leaders of reconciliation here in WA, to West Australians that make me proud from different sides of politics? Or do you want to stand with Peter Dutton, Clive Palmer, and the East Coast no campaign? Because that’s really what I’ve seen is I’ve seen, you know, senior leaders here in the West come together. This is about politics. I even saw Mayor Davies in the WA nationals who’s out there campaigning for Yes, I saw her speaking in parliament yesterday. And then we think about what we know about the challenge. What we’ve seen from the no campaign is a campaign that has no solutions to a broken system, no ideas on how to fix it, and no plan to close the gap. And I think we deserve so much more than that this campaign. I think all West Australians deserve more than that. And tomorrow, we can say very clearly, as a state that we want more than that, we’re going to make the choice between either recognition and listening, or leaving it to politicians like myself and Michaelia. To decide, we’re going to leave it to saying, do we want better results? Are we going to stick with the status quo? And are we going to actually bring people together, because ultimately, a big strong yes vote will bring people together. Because what we all know is that when you listen to people, you get better results. We’re here on radio, it’s all about listening. It’s all about people sharing their ideas. And so what we know is that that voice will give us different advice, what we’re getting at the moment, smarter advice to get smarter outcomes and better value for money. And it means that as a country, we can finally do what we haven’t done for 122 years, which is to recognize the first peoples of this land in our Constitution. I think we’ve had a really respectful campaign at most times here in Western Australia, we’ve had the big walk across the Malaga bridge with some 10,000 people coming together, showing their support. And we’ll have people on booths across Western Australia tomorrow. And I’d say to all of your listeners, if you’ve got a question as you’re walking in, grab one of those. Yes, volunteers have a chat to them. Like this is a national conversation. But I’m conscious that we’ve only got a little bit of time. And so when I leave my last words, these aren’t my words, Ollie, I’m going to leave my last words some words from Julie Bishop, former deputy leader of the Liberal Party, former Australian foreign minister, and someone who’s supporting constitutional recognition. Julie Bishop says, quote, I believe this is an opportunity, first to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders the rightful place in the Constitution, but secondly, to give them the right and the risk and the responsibility to come up with policies that will address the problems as they say them and get better outcomes. And I truly believe that this is our opportunity. We’ve done a great deal of research and analysis on the Uluru statement from the heart, the yes campaign and the referendum and we believe this is an opportunity to get things right. So I’m saying to all of your listeners vote with Ken Wyatt vote with Julie Bishop vote yes.

Oliver Peterson

That is Patrick Gorman from the Yes campaign. Michaelia Cash will make her pitch and then they’ll have an opportunity to obviously rebut each other. So it’s over to you, Senator.

Senator Cash

Thank you and Ollie tomorrow’s referendum is important and it affects all Australians. Let’s be clear, though, the referendum is not about recognition. All major parties support that. Recognition could, and should be, achieved without tying it to a risky Voice. Mr. Albanese wants to go much further than recognition; he wants to enshrine a Voice in our Constitution, with few limits to its scope, and few details. People I’ve been speaking to in Western Australia all want the best possible outcomes for Indigenous Australians, but they are not convinced that the Voice is the best way to do it. And there are very good reasons people are not convinced about the Voice. And I urge voters to look carefully at these reasons before casting their votes. There is no doubt that the Voice is legally risky. Every word in our Constitution can be open to interpretation, meaning the High Court of Australia will ultimately determine its powers, not the parliament, as Mr. Albanese keeps saying. That’s a fact, because the new chapter, in the Constitution clearly says, “Part Three, the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution.” You can’t trump a Constitutional right. Ollie, the Government won’t provide key details until after the referendum. This is a big decision. And yet, Mr. Albanese is asking Australians to vote without knowing exactly how the Voice would operate. And of course, there is no doubt that the Voice divides us. A Constitutional body for one group means permanently dividing Australians. Our nation should be one united, not two divided. The Voice also won’t help Indigenous Australians; more bureaucracy is not the answer. Remember the failed ATSIC body which was abolished with bipartisan support? The problem is that if the Voice fails, like ATSIC did, it will not be able to be dismantled, because it’s in the Constitution. And remember that no issue will be beyond the scope of the Voice. Labor’s proposed Voice model is not just to the Parliament, but to all areas of executive government, which means no issue is off limits. It also then risks delays and dysfunction. The risk of legal appeals and delays means the risk of dysfunctional government. And of course, once the Voice is in our Constitution, it will be permanent. It won’t be undone. Now, Western Australians know all about the disastrous Aboriginal Heritage laws, that had to be scrapped by the Cook Government after a statewide outcry. Bad legislation can be scrapped by a parliament, but, if the Voice is in our Constitution, the parliament can’t get rid of it. Now, Ollie, there are better ways forward rather than this Voice. What I believe is needed, no matter the result tomorrow, is accountability. And that accountability must start with the many government agencies that already exist, to help Indigenous Australians. We must get to the bottom of why money is being spent on Indigenous Australians, and it’s not helping some of our most marginalized Australians. It’s only through accountability at all levels that will be able to reach the best possible outcomes for Indigenous Australians; the thing that we all agree we want. Now, Ollie, I’ve said many times during this debate, that, “If you don’t know, vote no.” And the statement has been deliberately mischaracterized by some Yes supporters. Some say, “If you don’t know, then you should find out.” Well guess what? That point is almost impossible, because Mr. Albanese won’t give you the details you need about the Voice, to make a properly informed decision. Therefore, the voice is risky, unknown, divisive, and permanent. So if you don’t know, vote, no.

Oliver Peterson

All right, that is Michaelia Cash. Patrick Gorman, you’ve got a minute to rebut what you heard from Senator Cash, and then it’s back to Senator Cash to rebut what you said before.

Patrick Gorman (check against delivery)

Well, I just heard Senator cash repeat Clive Palmer’s talking points. And we’ve been through that before. So some of that didn’t surprise me at all. What I thought was fascinating was that Senator cash didn’t tell us that her plan is to legislate the voice. That’s their policy commitments headed to cash didn’t say that Peter Dutton has had he’ll hold a second referendum. So we’ll go through this all again, if they don’t get their way. And what they didn’t say is that actually, for the last 15 years, you’ve had political bipartisanship when it comes to constitutional recognition. And I don’t know what it was that happened in the liberal party party room in April of this year, but they chose to break that bipartisanship. If Senator cash wants to campaign against Prime Minister Albanese and the rest. Let’s do that at the election in 2025. This isn’t about politics. This is about bringing Australians together to finally do something that is long overdue, which is constitutional recognition. We’ve got nothing to lose. And what we know is that a no vote takes us nowhere. And it leaves us with the same old problems on Monday that we had today. So what I’d encourage listeners to do is have a chat with a volunteer when they go in to vote if they’ve got any questions. In my last 10 seconds, I’m going to give a plug to the P and C’s and the sausage sizzles and the democracy sausages that are happening across WA. If you still got some cash, if your listeners still use cash, I’d encourage them to put something in their pocket when they go back. The local pain says their fundraising tobacco schools, and it’s a great way to enjoy a good sausage, maybe a cupcake and do something good for your community.

Oliver Peterson

All right, Patrick Gorman there, Member for Perth. Michaelia Cash, it’s over to you.

Senator Cash

Well, Ollie, all fair-minded Australians want to help Indigenous Australians in disadvantaged communities improve their lives. And the Liberal Party: A) Supports Constitutional recognition; this is not about constitutional recognition. And yes, we support regional voices, with powers clearly defined by the Parliament. Having a centralised Voice, rather than regional voices, risks overlooking the needs of regional and remote communities. Sadly, regardless of the result tomorrow, though, Ollie, the Prime Minister has unnecessarily divided the country. As I said, the proposal has never been about recognition. By overreaching and conflating it with the complex and detail-less Voice, it has created mass uncertainty amongst voters, and consequently, the country has gone through a very traumatic 12 months. Australians have rightly been skeptical of the biggest proposed change to the Constitution in our history.

Oliver Peterson

Michaelia Cash, thank you very much, and Patrick Gorman, who is here in the 6PR studios, enjoy your weekends.

Senator Cash

Great to be with you, Ollie. Thank you.

Patrick Gorman

You too, make sure you get the democracy sausage.

Oliver Peterson

There you go, Patrick Gorman and Michaelia Cash.