Canberra Liberal MLAs have been told they won’t be bound by a party position when it comes to voting on the Voice to Parliament referendum.
The party has confirmed it won’t establish any formal position on the controversial issue.
Leader Elizabeth Lee said a referendum allowed all Australians to have their say, and it shouldn’t be any different for politicians.
“The Canberra Liberals acknowledge and respect the diverse range of views on this issue amongst Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” she said.
“The purpose of a referendum is an opportunity for all Australians to have their say; to have their vote on this important issue and for many it is very personal. It is also important to note that this is not a vote that is before the ACT Legislative Assembly.”
The stance comes after Chief Minister Andrew Barr was accused of pushing a ‘personal crusade’ to achieve the highest Yes vote in the country on the issue.
The ACT Government was also accused of not specifically consulting with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community about this stance, to which it argued there had been “six years of consultation” on the matter more broadly.
Ms Lee said this just highlighted the “continued devastating impacts of poor outcomes” for Indigenous Canberrans under the current Labor-Greens government.
“The Barr-Rattenbury government did not even consult with its own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body before putting forward an executive motion in support of the Voice,” she said.
“It is clear there is a long way to go for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans as we have raised concern about for some years now and we will continue to consult with the communities.”
All state and territory leaders agreed to support a Voice to Parliament during a meeting at the start of February.