Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has hit back after he was accused of using the Voice to Parliament as a “re-election vanity project”.
Less than a day after the official “yes” campaign launch in Adelaide, deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley accused Mr Albanese of using the Voice as a political wedge, and as an early re-election tool.
In a speech in Perth on Friday, Ms Ley said the Prime Minister was putting “reconciliation at risk with this haphazard approach to the Voice referendum”.
Mr Albanese said people would “make their own judgment as to whether the Coalition have been constructive or not”.
“As the months have rolled on, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that Anthony Albanese would rather see the Liberal Party say no and this referendum fail, than the Liberal Party say yes and this referendum succeed,” Ms Ley said in her speech.
“Instead of just being straight with the Australian people, the Prime Minister continues to play politics and lash out at Peter Dutton.
“The only explanation for this continued obfuscation from Anthony Albanese is that he doesn’t want to build bipartisan support. He wants this referendum to succeed – yes – but only on his terms.”
“It is on Anthony Albanese, if he is genuine about the Voice succeeding, to stop laying traps, stop willing the Coalition to oppose this, stop making it a re-election vanity project.”
Responding on Friday morning, Mr Albanese said he was attempting to be constructive.
“I’ve sat down to talk with Peter Dutton on no less than six occasions. And what I’ve been – repeatedly – is not be prescriptive about what we’re putting forward,” he said.
“I put forward a draft in good faith at the Garma festival in July last year. Since then, I haven’t seen any suggestion or wording from Sussan Ley or anyone else in the coalition.
“I sit in Question Time every day. They have an opportunity to ask questions about detail – that doesn’t happen.
“What you have is a series of comments aimed at creating confusion and making more complex, something that is actually very, very clear: do we recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Constitution? And do we consult them? That’s what the referendum is about.
“I am being constructive. People will look at (Ms Ley’s) comments and draw their own conclusions.”
The Prime Minister has accepted a request from the Liberal party to ensure voters are given an official pamphlet ahead of the referendum – set to be held between October and December.
The Liberal party also wants the government to give equal funding to both the “yes” and “no” campaigns. Mr Albanese said he would give both parties $0 each.
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