19 April 2023

Canberra Liberals start declaring their stances on the Voice to Parliament

| Claire Fenwicke
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mark parton

Mark Parton has declared he will be voting ‘Yes’ on the Voice to Parliament referendum. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee previously said about the Voice to Parliament that every person had a right to their say on the issue – and those in her party were no different.

Now members of the ACT Opposition have started declaring their standpoints, with views falling on both sides of the vote.

Brindabella MLA Mark Parton on Wednesday (19 April) declared he would be voting ‘Yes’ on the referendum.

It’s not a decision he thought he’d actually make.

“I initially, I’m not going to lie, believed I’d probably fall as a ‘No’,” Mr Parton said.

Mr Parton is the only member of the Legislative Assembly with known Indigenous heritage.

He decided to investigate the issue further, speaking with No campaigners such as Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Warren Mundine, as well as members of his mob on Noongar country in Western Australia and David Collard (who had been involved with the Uluru Statement from the Heart).

After these conversations, Mr Parton came to a different conclusion.

“The more I spoke with [them], the more I arrived at the conclusion that this is part of the reconciliation process,” he said.

While he understood some people had issues with the Voice as they felt it didn’t go far enough for Indigenous peoples, Mr Parton felt this was one step in rectifying past wrongs.

“In my time as a parliamentarian, I’ve learned often the pursuit of perfect can be the enemy of good outcomes,” he said.

“The Voice is far from perfect, but the flaws in it aren’t sufficient enough for me to say no.

“This is personal for me.”

He said while he understood why the Federal Liberals had had to adopt a certain stance, he appreciated that his party had allowed him to make his own decision.

“I won’t be campaigning on the Voice because it’s not for me to tell anyone how to vote in this space,” Mr Parton explained.

“I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer … all you can expect is that people will genuinely examine the issues and come to their own yes or no answer.”

READ ALSO Setting the record straight: AEC on mission to ‘prebunk’ referendum mistruths

Current acting Canberra Liberals leader Jeremy Hanson has declared he will be voting No.

In an opinion piece penned for City News, the Murrumbidgee MLA said, on principle, he believed the Constitution shouldn’t be changed to “entrench any racially based entity”.

“I fear entrenching a separate, unelected Voice in the constitution would diminish the power of those elected members and the people they represent,” he wrote.

“I do not support something I consider to be taking Australia backwards by institutionalising racial division in our founding document.”

He said he felt the Voice debate was already creating division in the community and feared it would not achieve any real progress on Indigenous issues.

“My suspicion is that the Voice is being presented as some utopian panacea to solve the great disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians, but will not actually progress closing the gap,” Mr Hanson said.

“A logical and less divisive way forward has been proposed by the Federal Opposition, which would provide recognition for Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and establish regional and local voices through an act in parliament. I support this approach.

“I believe we should all commit to work together to respond to our Indigenous peoples with recognition and with legislation, but not allow a race-based change to the constitution to divide us.”

READ ALSO AEC ramps up its education campaign for the Voice referendum

The ACT Labor-Greens Government has committed to creating a community campaign for the Yes vote, with Chief Minister Andrew Barr previously declaring he wanted the ACT to achieve the highest Yes result in the country.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith reaffirmed this stance.

“The only people who are dividing Australians in relation to the Voice are those who are spreading misinformation and disinformation,” she said.

“This is about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can have their voices heard in the policies that affect them, it is nothing more and it is nothing less.

“It is vitally important that our founding document, the Constitution, recognises the place of our First Peoples.”

The referendum vote will take place between October and December, with the question to read:

A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?

The proposed constitutional amendment is currently being considered, with a report due by 15 May.

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The Canberra Liberals coming out and declaring their position on the Voice to Parliament? Like really? Where is the meek Canberra media holding the Canberra Liberals to account?
In Canberra, all Labor MLA’s have been very vocal in revealing how they will vote on the Voice. We also have federal, state and territory leaders declaring their positions. But we only have two ACT Liberal MLA’s declaring their positions.
Jeremy Hanson, in his first act as opposition leader, in an opinion piece in the local media seemed to confirm that the Canberra Liberals will oppose the Voice. Mark Parton, recently discovering his Aboriginality, has come out and declared that he will support the Voice.
Elizabeth Lee, apparently the real leader of the Canberra Liberals is still active on social media despite being on leave. Sending out conflicting and confusing messages to her supporters she is weak in revealing how she will vote on the the Voice.
Where are the other six party members declaring their positions? They are all also very active on social media but have been extremely mute on this issue.

TL:DR: Jack hates Liberals.

Gregg Heldon1:36 pm 21 Apr 23

And, seemingly, Elizabeth Lee. Can we draw from that, that he is racist or a misogynist?

Let us hope that any form of legitimate criticism of the Canberra Liberals does not deteriorate into accusations of racism and Misogyny Gregg Heldon! I have heard Elizabeth Lee, a woman of colour, and her supporters on a number of occasions accuse elected representatives in the Assembly of racism when they make legitimate criticisms of her party.
I dearly hope our Assembly has not deteriorated into this sort of farce!

Jack D. “Elizabeth Lee, a woman of colour” Why do you use that Americanism? That term is thrown around flippantly, even when it doesn’t fit.

Yes, Maya, I agree – I find it strange that anyone would refer to Lee, who is of Asian heritage, as a ‘woman of colour’, albeit to highlight the racial slurs that have been at her and her staff.

Yes I know, I don’t like the term either Maya123. I was replying to a comment that seemed to suggest that I was a racist and misogynist. The comment comes from a regular contributor who I think goes by a number of names in these posts.
I have used a term often exploited by Elizabeth Lee to describe herself. Most specifically against any opponents who express legitimate criticisms of her party.
She has used the term a number of times this year in the media and the Assembly. This can be found in the transcripts of the Hansards on the ACT government’s parliamentary website.

In your regular posts Capital Retro you have made your allegiances clear, particularly your opposition to the Voice.
I suggest you take a little effort and inform yourself. Over many months the Labor Party and each of its MLA’s have made their positions clear in supporting the Voice. They have done this in the parliament, the media and on their Facebook pages. Federal representatives in the party have also been out there in Canberra promoting the Voice. On a number of occasions I have seen Labor MLA’s, their staff and yes, leader Andrew Barr outside the Canberra Centre promoting the yes vote!

Capital Retro2:52 pm 20 Apr 23

That is the policy of the Labor party – of course they are supporting it.

As it’s fairly clear you a staffer at the assembly Jack it’s no surprise you would see them outside the Canberra centre not far from the assembly

@Tom Philips
Lots of people work at the Assembly – and not all of them are politicians or their staff.
Do you actually have a point to make?

No Tom Philips I am not a staffer in the Assembly. I was a staffer for a short time a number of years back working for both sides of the assembly. That was when Kate Carnell was leader and Gary Humphries was deputy. It was a time when the Liberals were relevant to Canberra voters.
I have friends from all sides of the political divide. My Canberra Liberal mates are shamed and embarrassed by the current state of the party, its young Liberal movement, the party’s representatives and its leadership!

@justsaying the point is fairly clear. Jack D’s comments/rants are so ridiculously one sided, anti liberal, pro Labor/Green and are from some one who is clearly following what is happening in the assembly on a day to day basis as a staffer of labor or the Greens Party would be.

Hahahahaha. Sure you did thanks the laugh.

Capital Retro9:40 pm 20 Apr 23

Jack D., I have not seen any of the events you refer to nor have I been contacted directly by any politician with an opinion about The Voice. Never assume that what you see, hear or believe is consistent with what other people see, hear or believe.

Until I am informed completely by the government about what it is all about I will continue to call it a scam.

It seems to me that Tom Philips closely resembles a regular in these comment’s threads who comes under a different name

Balance needed1:20 pm 20 Apr 23

“I won’t be campaigning on the Voice because it’s not for me to tell anyone how to vote in this space,” Mr Parton explained.

Good on him. He said this on ABC radio yesterday morning despite being obviously pressured to join the Yes campaign by unabashed Yes activist Ross Solly.

@Balance needed
“despite being obviously pressured to join the Yes campaign”
If you actually read this article, you would know that Parton arrived at his own decision. Making false observations is just pathetic – but I guess your definition of balance is anything that is swayed in your direction.

I think you should read the comment again.

Parton has said he will vote Yes but won’t be campaigning on it.

Balance Needed was talking about a radio interview where in their opinion the interviewer was pressuring him to actively campaign for “Yes” rather than simply announcing his own position and letting other people decide for themselves.

Balance needed6:39 pm 20 Apr 23

Thank you chewy.
Justsaying, If you’re going to attack me at least have the decency to attack what I actually said not what you thought I said based on your careless reading.
And you seem to have assumed I’m going to vote no. I am not rushing in to this decision until I see what is actually going to be put to the Australian people.

Interesting observation – given Parton had made it clear, since declaring his voting intention, that he would not be campaigning for a yes vote, that would have been obvious. Nevertheless, Balance needed opines Parton “being obviously pressured to join the Yes campaign by unabashed Yes activist Ross Solly” … I’m still not seeing a lot of balance in that.

You could just admit you misread the intention of the comment, no harm done.

Capital Retro9:33 pm 20 Apr 23

Welcome to the RiotAct Star Court, Balance needed.

@Balance needed
I did read your comment – especially your assertion that he was “obviously being pressured to join the Yes campaign” … apologies if I offended your sensibilities by identifying it for what it is – unbalanced.

Capital Retro10:03 am 20 Apr 23

Who cares what the Liberals’ personal stance is on The Voice?

I want to hear what the individual Labor/Green MLA’s is.

@Capital Retro
Why do you want to “want to hear what the individual Labor/Green MLA’s” stance is on the Voice? You don’t expect us to believe that anything they have to say would influence your vote, do you?

Nevertheless, with respect to the Voice to Parliament, on the 8-February, the ACT Legislative Assembly voted, in part, that the Assembly “reaffirms its support for enshrining a Voice to Parliament, as one of the key actions sought in the Uluru Statement from the Heart”. In debating the motion a proposed amendment from the Libs was voted down, along party lines. However the original motion was then passed without the need for a division and formal vote – i.e. there were NO dissenters.

I think that provides fairly good evidence, as to the stance of Labor/Green MLAs on the Voice to Parliament – i.e. they support it. If you don’t believe that, it’s only 16 phone calls or emails to each of their electorate offices to find out.

Capital Retro1:52 pm 20 Apr 23

To date I am unaware that none of the media commentators have asked Labor or Green MLAs what their personal “choice on the voice” is and they won’t because we all know that the members do not have the choice to think individually or they are expelled from the party if they do and you know that.

@Capital Retro
So, you don’t really give a damn what the Labor or Green MLAs think, CR – your just having a whinge, because Hansen and Parton have volunteered their positions.

“… do not have the choice to think individually or they are expelled from the party if they do …”
and of course you have facts to support that this would happen to them, do you, CR?

@Capital Retro
Oh dear, you are desperate to shine aren’t you? Far from enlightening me, you are once again demonstrate your ignorance.

What has ‘Crossing the Floor’ got to do with this discussion? There will be no vote on the referendum in the Assembly – this is a vote of the people and ACT LA members each have one vote, just like you and me. Whether or not they choose to divulge how they will vote is a matter for each of them – just like it is a matter for the remaining 7 Liberal MLAs to decide if they will go public.

By the way, CR, for the record, I have frequently railed against the lemming-like process of major party MPs voting along party lines rather than in the best interests of the constituents they represent – so I certainly don’t like the ALP policy of dismissing MPs who vote according to their conscience in the various chambers.

Sadly, for you, that doesn’t apply in this case.

What is more relevant to this discussion, is the time Labor MP Joel Fizgibbon spoke out against the (then) opposition proposal to adopt a medium-term emissions reduction target he could not live with as Member for Hunter. He was not booted from the party nor was he sacked from the Shadow Cabinet. However, like Julian Leeser, he did (subsequently) choose to move to the back bench over the issue.

Bad luck. CR, but keep trying.

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