10 May 2023

Albo hits the airwaves in the Torres Strait

| Samuel Davis
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THE Prime Minister has taken over Torres Strait airwaves, delivering an impassioned case for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

During a nearly 30-minute interview with 4MW on Thursday Island, Mr Albanese said the Voice was a vital step towards Closing the Gap for Indigenous Australians.

The proposed body would also lead to better outcomes for Cape York and the Torres Strait, he said.

“For 121 years decisions have been made in Canberra and with the best of intentions things haven’t gone as well as they could have,” the PM said.

“Housing is an acute issue. Here on the islands space is an issue. On Cape York, around the Peninsula, there’s more space, but other challenges.

“A Voice will be able to express issues of concern for Indigenous people.

Addressing concerns around the structure of the Voice, Mr Albanese said measures would be taken to ensure remote communities were well represented.

“One of the things a Voice will need to do is make sure in its structures that minorities within Indigenous communities are also heard,” he said.

“On issues like climate change, we know the Torres Strait will be more impacted.

“Many islands are low lying … and are susceptible to rising sea levels.

“But where Indigenous people have been consulted, those programs are the ones that have been most successful.

“You look at Indigenous rangers (programs). That’s provided employment, made a positive difference to the natural environment and economic activity. That’s because there’s a sense of ownership.

“That says to me the Voice will be successful in closing the gap in health, education, housing and life expectancy.”

Since becoming Prime Minister, Mr Albanese said he had been overwhelmed by the amount of support the Voice had received.

“I have not met a senior business leader in this country who doesn’t support the Voice,” he said.

“The thing about every step that’s been taken – whether it’s the 1967 referendum, or the Native Title legislation or the Apology to Stolen Generations – is that once that has occurred it has benefited Indigenous people and the whole nation.

“People look back on it (those events) and say, ‘Why didn’t it happen sooner?’ Australia was enhanced by that.

“Of course there will be different voices and I respect the fact that people will have different views.

“You don’t get constitutional change unanimously.

“But I want this to be owned by the Australian people. I want people to talk these issues through.”

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