Minister Rishworth interview on Sunrise


Topic: Voice to Parliament.

NATALIE BARR, HOST: Let's bring in Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to both of you. Amanda, let’s start with you. Do you think most Australians understand what the Voice is?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: I have spoken to a lot of Australians and they know deep down that what the Voice is about, is giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a say in what affects them. Now over the next few months we will be doing a lot to make sure people understand more of the details about, what is the question in our constitution, how will it be laid out in our constitution and what will be the role of Parliament in determining things like the make-up and how it operates. There is more work to be done to make sure we are getting all those details out there, but I think ultimately, when I'm talking with people there is a groundswell of support that suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders do deserve a say in the issues that affect them.

NATALIE BARR: Barnaby, the Lower House is going to continue to debate the referendum bill this week. It then goes to the Senate, where Labor, of course, doesn't have a majority. Do you think it's going to pass?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, this is so important that the Australian people see exactly what the Voice is before they vote in a referendum. You wouldn't find a partner for life before you met them, you wouldn't buy a car before you'd actually seen it. So, don't vote for a Voice until they trust you with the details. If they don't trust you with the details, don't trust them with your vote. And of course, what we'll see from the Prime Minister today, I mean, we all believe in recognition, that's not the issue, it's the overreach of this. The premise of this now is becoming so much sort of like a guilt thing, that if you don't marry my child, you're a bad person. When the issue really is about, we understand we want recognition, but this idea that we have an unelected body, a selected body that has power in the Parliament in perpetuity, can't get rid of them for the rest of our lives, is something that is massively, massively beyond

AMANDA RISHWORTH: [interrupts] let’s be really clear. There is no veto. There is no veto for Parliament. It does not change the role of the Parliament and it is misleading. It's misleading to suggest otherwise.

BARNABY JOYCE: …no, I never said there was, Amanda. I never said there was. But what there will be most definitely, unless you've completely changed it, is the capacity for people to say, I wasn't consulted properly. You erred, in a position, you put too much emphasis in another area, you left another area out completely, therefore I wasn't consulted properly, therefore, the decision of the Parliament is unconstitutional and must be stopped...

AMANDA RISHWORTH: [interrupts] this is about listening.  This is about listening…

BARNABY JOYCE: …that will be the remit of the High Court and if it wasn’t you wouldn’t have it in the Constitution.

NATALIE BARR: [interrupts] Thanks, Amanda. This is what people are saying, and you would hear them the same as because we're all in the same country and we're all talking about this. So, sometimes people don't understand the details and other people are saying, well, can they go and stop a mine? The mining states are worried about that. Can they stop certain things happening? Can they bog down policy in the courts? Even if they can't veto it, can they slow down our government? They're the things people sometimes want answered.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The Solicitor-General has put out advice that clearly states that this will enhance our democracy. Not impede it. Of course, in the constitutional question there is a clear part that says Parliament will determine the composition, the function and other matters of the Voice. This really is about ensuring that there is a forum that can provide advice to the Parliament and to the Executive. It doesn't have a veto, it doesn't somehow become a third chamber of the Parliament and there's a lot of information out there. I would encourage people and they'll see a lot more through advertising in coming weeks. I encourage people to have a good look at that because there is a lot of detail out there and it's our job to get out there and make sure people understand that detail.

NATALIE BARR: And I think there needs to be more information out there because I'm guessing, and I could be wrong, people are maybe not going to seek it out. Maybe it needs to come to them, the information. Barnaby, would you say that's the point?

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah, you could start by actually coming up with the Voice legislation and introducing it into the Parliament, having the debate, seeing what the final form is after it gets through the Senate, and that would be being honest with the people. But to say to people; just trust us - it won't have any undue consequences. Well, we trusted you when you told us you're going to put down power prices. We trust you when you said you're going to bring down interest rates.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: [interrupts] we are not going to be playing politics…

NATALIE BARR: I really don't think we're going to go on what governments do right and wrong. Sorry, last word Amanda.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: This is about generational change. This will be for parliaments to decide into the future. And if Barnaby is somehow saying, parliaments can't be trusted, we may as well just get rid of them. I mean, this is about the Parliament getting to work out what the composition function of the Voice, but it's a simple proposition. It's a proposition of should Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders be recognised in the Constitution? And how they are recognised is through a Voice providing advice to Parliament…

BARNABY JOYCE: [interrupts] we have no problems with that part, we have no problems with that part.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: …That is what the proposal is. And that proposal comes from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That… Barnaby, you need to start Iistening…


NATALIE BARR: Actually I think Barnaby's right on that. Everyone you talk to says, yes, we agree in the Constitution, but we just want to know more detail. We want to know how it's going to work. We want to know the nuts and bolts. And as you say, the advertising campaign is coming. We'll have to leave it there. We're obviously going to talk more. Thank you both.