The New South Wales treasurer, Matt Kean, has urged his federal Liberal counterparts to support an Indigenous voice to parliament in the planned referendum, saying it is a chance to “unite” the country.

The federal opposition has yet to confirm whether it will support a yes vote in a referendum to enshrine the voice in the constitution, which is expected during the first term of Anthony Albanese’s government.

On Tuesday Kean, a leading moderate in the state Liberal party, urged the federal opposition leader, Peter Dutton, to back the referendum.

“I think it’s an opportunity to unite our nation, I think it’s an opportunity to strengthen our democracy,” he said in an interview with the ABC.

“The Liberal party supporting a voice to parliament will ensure there is broad support for a voice to parliament, for our First Nations people to be consulted on matters of policy. That can only be a good thing for our democracy.”

Dutton has repeatedly said he would not make a call on supporting the referendum until the government offered more detail on the proposal, and on Tuesday Liberal senator Simon Birmingham acknowledged not everyone was in agreement.

“There are definitely different views across the party and many who simply want to try to make an informed decision based on the detail,” he said.

“I certainly don’t want to see a voice referendum fail.

“I think that would be undesirable for the country and the many people who hold the issue dear.”

The Coalition’s junior partner, the Nationals, have already ruled out supporting the voice, with the leader, David Littleproud, saying the party did not believe the referendum would “genuinely close the gap”.

He was later contradicted by Andrew Gee, one of his Nationals colleagues, who said he remained a supporter of the voice.

Kean said he disagreed with the Nationals’ stance.

“What I would say to the [the Nationals] is that in the Uluru statement from the heart there were a number of requests made from our First Nations people to the rest of the country [and] one of them is that they be consulted on matters of policy in the form of a voice,” he said

“This is a modest request from our First Nations people to the rest of the country, especially in light of the entrenched disadvantage that we have seen for our Indigenous Australians, especially in light of past atrocities and injustices.

“This is an important step forward so we can recognise the past but also move forward as one.”

Kean said the NSW government would be seeking “compensation” if the federal government pushed ahead with its plan for a cap on coal prices, again saying the state had not been provided with sufficient detail on the proposal.

Wednesday’s planned national cabinet meeting, where the issue would have been discussed, was cancelled after Albanese contracted Covid-19.

“We need to see the detail of the commonwealth’s plan to solve this national problem [including] the modelling about how we’ll keep prices down,” Kean said.

“We haven’t seen anything yet.”

He said that NSW energy consumers and taxpayers “need to be no worse off”.

“The NSW government already provides $300m in energy rebates every year and the commonwealth is yet to put a single dollar on the table [to deal with] energy costs,” he said.

“If they are going to handball this problem to us then we need an indemnity to the costs we may need to pay under free trade agreements or to keep energy companies afloat, and compensation for lost royalties which help fund our schools and hospitals.”


Michael McGowan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Senator takes aim at ‘bullies’ as voice row escalates – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Mostafa Rachwani and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

29, Nov, 2022 @7:58 AM

Article image
The rhetoric around the Indigenous voice to parliament shows it’ll be a rough campaign
If this week was an indication of the level of the debate, then Australia is in for a torrid time when referendum process begins in earnest

Lorena Allam

02, Dec, 2022 @1:30 AM

Article image
‘Chasing unicorns’: NSW Liberal minister rejects federal opposition push for nuclear power
Matt Kean’s comments come after Peter Dutton indicated support for nuclear energy could be part of future Coalition policy

Michael McGowan

08, Jun, 2022 @4:42 AM

Article image
Guardian Essential poll: support for Aukus and Indigenous voice declines
Anthony Albanese improves in personal measures, including honesty and vision, despite waning support for major policies

Paul Karp Chief political correspondent

20, Mar, 2023 @2:00 PM

Article image
State and territory leaders to sign joint statement backing Indigenous voice to parliament
Move will give a fresh push to Labor’s referendum plans, with Liberals and Greens yet to agree their positions

Paul Karp

31, Jan, 2023 @2:00 PM

Article image
Guardian Essential poll: Albanese approval rating dips in sign of gruelling political year ahead
Prime minister’s lowest result since last August doesn’t necessarily mean the end of government’s post-election honeymoon

Katharine Murphy Political editor

23, Jan, 2023 @2:00 PM

Article image
Guardian Essential poll: majority of Australians continue to support Indigenous voice
With 65% of respondents supporting the change, survey suggests Peter Dutton’s soft no campaign is failing to shift sentiment

Katharine Murphy Political editor

06, Feb, 2023 @2:00 PM

Article image
David Littleproud is a ‘kindergarten kid’ whose Nationals will be ‘left behind’ on voice, Noel Pearson says
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price caught in a ‘tragic redneck celebrity vortex’ and ‘punching down on other Blackfellas’, Cape York leader says

Daniel Hurst and Amy Remeikis

29, Nov, 2022 @12:00 AM

Article image
Nationals harden stance against Indigenous voice after receiving more detail on proposal
Party leader David Littleproud says there’s ‘no position where the Nats would change their minds’

Tamsin Rose and Josh Butler

09, Dec, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
‘Not on the agenda’: NSW minister rules out state treaty with First Nations people
Ben Franklin says Coalition has no plans for a formal pact despite backing federal voice to parliament

Tamsin Rose

08, Mar, 2023 @2:00 PM