A secret ‘agenda for the Voice’ has been allegedly left behind by an Indigenous group at a Canberra cafe – fueling fears Australia’s way of life will be turned on its head if the referendum gets up.
The 11-point agenda, apparently found by a member of the public and handed to Senator Pauline Hanson, outlines various ‘opportunities’ to pursue should the Voice to Parliament be enshrined in the constitution.
They include Indigenous job quotas, a takeover of Australian beaches and national parks, and a recommendation that First Nations people be granted first choice of all public housing.
One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson told Federal Parliament on Wednesday that she was contacted by a concerned member of the public after he found a document in a cafe in Woden.
She said the note was left behind by a group who he believed to be employed by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, a $4.5 billion government body established to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
‘It disturbed me greatly,’ she later said.
‘I’m trying to say to people… understand if you give this the yes vote, this is what you could be opening yourself up to.’
Anthony Albanese appeared on the verge of tears several times during his announcement on Thursday, revealing the exact question the public will be asked
If the letter were to be believed, the 11-point plan recommended First Nations people be granted first choice of all public housing and reverting beaches and national parks to ‘ownership of the Mob that traditionally inhabits the area’.
Non-Indigenous Australians who use those beaches or national parks would subsequently be charged a fee, which would generate revenue for Indigenous owners.
Senator Hanson is now questioning whether Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is aware of the suggestions the group is purportedly putting forward and, if not, who oversees the body.
‘If the Prime Minister is aware of these initiatives set out by the NIAA, it would appear that Mr Albanese continues to mislead the Australian people over the extent of powers given to the Voice to Parliament,’ she said.
Comment has been sought from the NIAA and the PM’s office.
Anthony Albanese surrounded by members of the First Nations Referendum Working Group
Member of the First Nations Referendum Working Group Dr Marcia Langton was emotional as she listened to Anthony Albanese
Pauline Hanson revealed the contents of the letter in the Senate
Senator Hanson claims up to seven NIAA staff members were at the cafe at the time her source was there with his wife, and were discussing the contents of the document left behind.
The first call to action was for an Indigenous job quotas of 10 per cent across several key roles, including judges, magistrates, ADF officers, AFP and state police forces, corrections departments and ambassadors.
Universities would be asked to drop all entry testing and fees for First Nations students, and the group suggests reducing the age eligibility requirement for the old age pension for First Nations people due to their shorter life expectancy.
Senator Hanson said her ‘anxiety levels are rising’ after receiving the correspondence, which also recommended entry fees to any sport and music events on public land be reduced for First Australians by 50 per cent.
Rivers and streams would become property of the traditional owners, allowing them to seek revenue and charge fees for water consumption. Mining royalties would follow a similar procedure.
The document stated the Voice would also seek to review and vet all new liquor licences, and ensure all Voice staff receive the same salary as the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
As Mr Albanese and his entourage left Thursday’s press conference, they were greeted to raucous applause by the Labor caucus
In an emotional press conference, Mr Albanese said: ‘This moment has been a very long time in the making’
Pictured: The 11 points that were laid out in the document
Finally, Senator Hanson claims the letter she received stated income tax for First Nations people should be slashed by 50 per cent.
The letter was sent anonymously directly to her office on Tuesday, meaning she has no way to follow up and verify the contents of the document with the informant.
But she believes its credibility as the cafe named is just 450 metres from the NIAA office in Canberra, and some of the points addressed are concerns that she herself has raised.
Others have expressed doubts as to whether there is any benefit in trusting an anonymous letter, given the Prime Minister has expressly laid out the parameters of the Voice.
In announcing the final question which is expected to be asked of all Australians at a referendum, Mr Albanese said the Voice would hold no veto power.
The role would be to consult officials on matters directly impacting Indigenous communities, in an attempt to work with First Nations people rather than on their behalf.
Critics of the Voice have called out the Albanese government for not explaining how the constitutional amendment would work (pictured, Mr Albanese and Minister Burney)
In the referendum, due to be held between October and December, the public will be asked to consider: ‘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?’
In an emotional press conference, Mr Albanese said: ‘This moment has been a very long time in the making. It’s a simple matter from the heart.
‘Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in our Constitution is the best chance this country has had to address the injustices of the past and move Australia forward for everyone, the best way to do this is to give people a voice.’
For 122 years, the Constitution has made no reference to continent’s original inhabitants who, the PM pointed out, have had ‘more than 65,000 years of continuous connection to this vast land’.
Mr Albanese brought 18 others onto the podium for his announcement and his lip quivered as he made eye contact with Dr Marcia Langton, who was wiping away tears of her own as the PM spoke.
The opposition has agreed to support the Indigenous Voice to parliament bill in the Senate (pictured, people participate in protests on Australia Day this year)
‘I regard it as a great privilege to be standing with the giants of Australia,’ Mr Albanese said. ‘I don’t know if I had their experience in life if I could be as generous and modest in my request. I’d like to think that I would be, but you can’t stand in other people’s shoes.
‘This is a modest request. I say to Australia; don’t miss it. This is a real opportunity.’
If a majority of Australians vote in favour of the Voice, the Constitution would be amended as follows:
1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions powers and procedures.
Contents of the letter Senator Hanson received
Senator Hanson received a letter which listed the below points
Early Action / Opportunities for the Voice
1. Job quotas: Minimum 10% appointments to be First Nations people for Judges, Magistrates, CW SES, ADF oﬃcers, AFP and State Police forces, Corrections departments, Vice Chancellors, and Ambassadors.
2. Universities: No entry tests, and no fees for First Nations people.
3. Old age pensions: Reduced age eligibility for First Nations people “Because we die younger”.
4. Public Housing: First Nations people to have first preference for all vacant public housing across all states.
5. Sport & Music: Entry fees reduced by 50% for First Nations people for any events on public land.
6. Beaches & National Parks: All beaches and national parks to be property of the relevant tribe, and non-first nations people to be charged to use the beaches, parks etc… Revenues to go to relevant tribe.
7. Rivers and Streams: to become property of relevant tribe, and fees for water consumption paid to relevant tribe.
8. Mining Royalties: Same as for water.
9. Income tax: For First Nations people to be 50% of normal rate.
10. Liquor Licensing: All new liquor licenses across Australia to be vetted by Voice.
11. Voice Oﬃce: Research / Policy staﬀ to analyse and review all proposed Government policies, legislation and appointments. Same size and pay as DPMC.
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