GBK: Voice must be listened to, not just heard

Apr 21, 2023

Gur A Baradharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council’s Chair, Ned David, joined other leaders from Torres Strait Islander communities to tell inquiry First Nation’s people want an Indigenous Voice to Parliament “to be listened to, not just to be heard”.

Extract from online news article by of ABC Far North:

The parliamentary committee examining the issue ahead of the referendum due later this year sat in Cairns on Wednesday.

GBK Chair told the hearing the proposal for a Voice was “trying to meet everyone halfway, to a degree, and have something that’s palatable to the Australian voters”.

But he said there were concerns there was “no evidence the parliament or the executive will be compelled to listen to the Voice”.

“If we don’t do that, we’re going the other way,” Mr David said. 

“It would actually silence us from having input into policies that directly affect our lives, our rights and our interests.”

Mr David said new legislation going before parliament should be assessed by the Voice under a similar process to existing human rights legislation.

Torres Strait Island Regional Council Deputy Mayor Getano Lui said the Voice’s model had to be “community driven”.

“We need a voice to be listened to, not a voice just to be heard,” he said.

“There is a big difference to me.”

The Masig Statement, which declared a path towards regional autonomy and self-determination for the Torres Strait, was unveiled after the prime minister visited the islands last year

Key points from hearing

  • The committee also heard evidence from Aboriginal community leaders in Cape York and Yarrabah
  • Concerns about the Voice being ignored were raised to the committee
  • One leader said the Liberal Party’s proposed alternative to the Voice was “nonsensical” and that Indigenous people had to be involved at the national level

Read the full article here