Noel Pearson warns coalition playing ‘disruptive game’ to parliament with voices of locals

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First Nations leader Noel Pearson warns that the Coalition’s request to parliament for more details on Indigenous voices is “a complete diversion” and a “disruptive game” that threatens to end any chance of reconciliation forever.

Pearson, one of the key architects of Uluru’s heartfelt statement, says the details are a matter for parliament to determine after the audio referendum.

“The referendum is a constitutional matter. Legislation is for parliament,” Pearson told ABC radio.

Related: Albanese needs to be more convincing on the sound – otherwise Dutton’s wrecking ball could break the sound | Paul Karp

Pearson said shadow attorney general Julian Leeser and opposition leader Peter Dutton “may be choosing to play a disruptive game”.

“This is very worrying,” Pearson said. “I hope not.”

He said 2023 was the “most important year” for reconciliation since the arrival of the first fleet.

“We have to understand what is at stake and this is a chance for reconciliation,” Pearson told ABC radio.

“If the referendum is disrupted by a play-and-breaking game by the opposition, we lose the opportunity forever.”

Leeser, a prominent supporter of the coalition’s voice in parliament and spokesperson for Indigenous Australians, warned that the Albanian government was in danger of “losing it”.

He urged the government to share more information on the audio to help supporters make their defense.

“It’s very difficult to explain how this will work when the government doesn’t provide details,” he said at a Young Liberals meeting on Saturday.

Pearson said the Coalition has been in power for nine of the last 12 years, and after it produced a report on how the voice would work in parliament in 2019, it “had three years to build its own version of the details and they didn’t do it.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday that more details will be released by the referendum working group, which will meet again on February 2.

Guardian Australia understands that more information on the voting process will be released soon.

Albanese said the opposition had more than six months to comment on the government’s draft statement on the referendum question announced at the 2022 Garma festival.

“There have been no proposed changes to this draft from the coalition.”

A group of Indigenous leaders from 14 communities in Australia wrote to Albanese and Dutton over the weekend, asking them to “take the lead” and find common ground on sound.

Their letters warned that the nation was “at a crossroads” in this regard.

“It’s local people, not just politicians, who need to have a say in closing the gap,” they wrote.

Ian Trust, a Gidja man and chairman of Indigenous leaders group Empowered Communities, said every prime minister since John Howard has supported the need for First Nations people to be recognized in the constitution.

“Do politicians really say they can’t work together before the referendum to come up with details that will satisfy both sides for when we need them after the successful referendum?” He said trust.

Related: Leading Liberal advocate of indigenous voice fears losing ‘everyday’ supporters of referendum

Kuku Yalanji from Cape York and Fiona Jose, a Torres Strait Islander woman and another signatory to the letter, said the Coalition’s voice not supporting constitutional recognition “is not because Australians or Indigenous people have the answers.” .

“The fact that the past 26 years in government has passed with great failure and backtracking is testament to that,” Jose said.

Jose urged politicians to take a non-partisan approach to Natives’ voices in parliament, “giving us a voice in matters affecting our lives.”

“That’s the commitment we need from all political leaders right now – our expectation is that you work together,” he said.

The letter was signed on behalf of Aboriginal community leaders in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Kimberley, Arnhem Land and NPY Lands in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

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