Noel Pearson talks to Ken Wyatt and Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes. Picture: Gera Kazakov

Kalamunda centre stage for Voice campaign

Yes23 visits Kalamunda while Durack MHR concerned about WA Voice representation.
September 21, 2023
Gera Kazakov

YES23 have travelled to Kalamunda to promote their campaign while No has raised questions about how WA will be represented by the Voice.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, Hasluck MP Tania Lawrence, Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes were joined by former Liberal minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, activist Noel Pearson and Yes23 volunteers to promote the Yes vote at the Zig Zag Cultural Centre.

“A No leads us nowhere, we must write Yes,” Ms Lawrence said.

Mr Wyatt said that the Voice would help Indigenous communities across Australia be able to talk about issues which are important to them.

“The Voice is absolutely important. It gives our people at the community, regional and national level the opportunity to sit at the tables of government at every level.

“And that’s why I’m asking Australians to support the Yes case and vote Yes on October 14.

“I want a future where my grandchild walks as an equal with every other Australian and not face levels of disparity,” he said.   

Mr Pearson said that he believes Australia will be united once the votes are counted on October 14.

“It’s been a long journey getting here, but the summit is ahead of us, and I have an absolute belief it’s for us Australians to bring this together to a successful conclusion.

“It’s now time for us to do this,” he said.

Mr Pearson said Mr Wyatt’s hard work when he was minister for Aboriginal Affairs has paved the way for the Voice to go ahead.

“Ken has handed the baton in good stead onto Linda. The work that his Calma Langdon committee did in the years that he was minister has put us in a good stead to move ahead with this referendum knowing that we have done a lot of consultation around the country,” he said.

Ms Burney said the referendum provided an opportunity for Australia to unite.

“This Voice is an advisory body, to not only the government and the Parliament – it is a body that will be representative of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the country,” she said.

When questioned about how many representatives of the Voice will be from WA, Ms Burney said the Voice will be designed by Parliament after a successful referendum.

“We are very clear and if you look at the principles from the design principles, that Noel Pearson was a part of deciding on, and so was Ken Wyatt, is that it will be a representative body made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and it will be chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at the local level,” she said.

Durack MP Melissa Price said the current model for the Voice includes a national body of 24 members, with three belonging to WA.

“The Indigenous community in Durack is very diverse and I can’t see how two voices out of Perth and maybe somewhere in WA could possibly represent the Indigenous communities across the Wheatbelt, Midwest, Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley,” she said.


Ms Price is against the Voice and said she is not convinced that enshrining a Voice will lead to better outcomes for the Indigenous community.

“We don’t even know if the Voice will include anyone from Durack. I foresee the people who will make up the Voice will be the same individuals who already have the ear of government,” she said.

Ms Price admits that her electorate contains support for the Voice from Indigenous communities, but said she is receiving mixed feedback and is sceptical of the 80 per cent support line used by the Yes campaign.

“Many aren’t aware of the proposal or what it will look like and therefore don’t have a strong opinion.

“Indigenous people across Durack have let me know they are concerned voices from their communities won’t be heard and that they are also confused by the lack of detail.

“Reflecting on this feedback it is strange that all Australians are being asked to pass a proposal on behalf of Indigenous Australians when concrete support from our Indigenous community doesn’t exist.”

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 5302 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders lived in the City of Swan, 1442 in the Shire of Mundaring, 1350 in the City of Kalamunda, 144 in the Shire of York and 715 in the Shire of Northam.

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