BREAKING NEWS: Noel Pearson, one of the architects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, has slammed the Liberal party’s opposition to the Voice referendum, calling the decision a “Judas betrayal” and accusing party leader Peter Dutton of being an “undertaker preparing the grave to bury” the Uluru statement.
Speaking on ABC Radio, Pearson, who has attempted to convince conservatives of the merit of the voice concept for years, was scathing of Dutton’s decision, calling it “very sad.” He said he believes the Liberal party is greatly out of step with the sentiment of the Australian people on the issue.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Pearson said. “I was troubled by dreams and the spectre of the Dutton Liberal party’s Judas betrayal of our country.”
“They’ve had 11 years of power to work on a proper proposal for recognition and the decision they’ve taken yesterday is a very poor outcome…. I see the leader of the Liberal party, Mr Dutton, as an undertaker preparing the grave to bury [the Uluru statement].”
The Liberal party has formally resolved to oppose the referendum for a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament. Instead, it proposed symbolic constitutional recognition of Indigenous people along with local and regional voices set up by legislation. Symbolic constitutional recognition was rejected in the detailed consultation processes leading up to the Uluru statement.
Pearson said Dutton was on a “unity ticket” with his former leader Tony Abbott, and One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, who are both opposed to the Voice.
“I believe that the Liberal party is greatly out of step with the sentiment of the Australian people on this issue, and we will succeed notwithstanding their very disappointing stance,” he said.
“I am certain that every attempt to try and kill Uluru and bury it will not succeed. The Australian people will rise to the historic opportunity we have to achieve reconciliation at last.”
Pearson added that the former Coalition government had over a decade in office to secure constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which was part of the party’s platform.
In other developments, State Liberal leaders have publicly opposed the federal party’s decision, and federal MP Bridget Archer admitted she had considered quitting the party. She said her colleagues had not learned the lessons of mounting election losses.
Archer, a supporter of the referendum, will campaign for a Yes vote and said on Wednesday that she did not support the party’s position. On Thursday, she said she sometimes considered leaving the party but decided to stay in hopes of changing the Liberal culture. She believes that the Liberal party is at a crossroads, and for people like her, that means there’s a decision between either walking away and leaving them to it or fighting for what she believes the Liberal party used to be and should be into the future – a credible alternative government.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese accused the opposition of seeking to undermine the referendum, saying Dutton had taken a “sledgehammer” to the vote.
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