Conservative commentator Chris Kenny says the opportunity for real change has prompted him to support an Indigenous vote in parliament.
Australians will have the opportunity to vote on the issue under one of Labor’s election pledges to hold a referendum to implement what is one of the key tenets of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“Through this measure, there could be a lasting assurance that Indigenous Australians are consulted about laws that affect them. What could be fairer? What could be more just?” Mr. Kenny said Thursday night on ABC’s Q&A.
“This is not a green-left idea. It does not belong to the green left or the progressive side of politics. Many people on the right side of politics have been involved in this for a long time.”
Camera IconSky News commentator Chris Kenny is one of several Conservatives backing a proposed Indigenous vote in parliament. Image: ABC Credit: Included
Kenny was appointed to the federal government’s Indigenous Voice Senior Advisory Group in 2019.
From a constitutional perspective, he says the care taken in drafting the strategy also gave him assurances that the changes would not lead to “legal activism.”
NSW Liberal MP Julian Leeser considers himself a constitutional conservative and says he also did not want the changes to lead to “unintended consequences”.
However, he was won over by the care with which the changes were made and the opportunity for more effective reforms.
“I think this is practical. The whole point of having advisory bodies – and that’s all they are – is to make better policies on the ground,” said Mr Leeser.
“We need to make sure those people on the right of center understand that this isn’t a progressive idea, nor is it a symbolic idea,” Kenny said.
“It is an idea to unite the country behind measures that can actually close the gap. Something we all want.”
Liberal leader Peter Dutton said he was open to working with the government to support the vote to parliament, but waited for Labor to provide more details.
Camera icon Constitutional attorney Shireen Morris (left) said architects of the changes consulted constitutional conservatives such as NSW Liberal MP Julian Leeser (right). Image: ABC Credit: Included
Constitutional lawyer Shireen Morris said the sheer number of Australians in favor of the issue have “moved left and right”.
“I think this is bigger than ordinary political divides and I think there is a ton of goodwill on the part of the political right for this issue,” she said.
“I think the proponents on this issue have laid the groundwork to do everything possible to get conservatives on the sidelines to minimize that nasty side of the debate.
“This is the only constitutional reform proposal on the table that gives indigenous peoples a voice in their affairs, but also upholds and protects the constitution, and protects parliamentary supremacy.”