The Voice referendum: Indigenous leader Warren Mundine slams Anthony Albanese ... trends now
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine has called out Anthony Albanese for his 'crocodile tears' as the PM announced the wording of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.
Mr Albanese choked back tears as he spoke about the phrase Australians will be asked to consider when voting on whether or not to alter the Constitution.
The question for the referendum, set to be held between October and December, will simply be: 'Do you approve this proposed alteration?'
The move aims to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
But Mr Mundine who is a key figure in the No campaign, blasted the Prime Minister for being overly theatrical and disingenuous.
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine (pictured) said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's ' tears were disingenuous while making a historic announcement about the indigenous Voice to Parliament.
The emotional Prime Minister choked back tears as he announced the phrase the public will be asked to consider when voting on whether or not to alter the constitution (pictured: Mr Albanese leaving Thursday's press conference)
His comments were sparked by Mr Albanese's refusal to meet with 20 Aboriginal people on Wednesday about their opposition to the Voice.
'If he's fair dinkum and those tears aren't crocodile tears, he should have met with them and listened to their concerns,' Mr Mundine told The Australian.
'They are the sort of people he says the voice should be working for. He had the chance to prove that, and he didn't.'
The former Labor and Liberal MP argues the Voice to Parliament campaign is mostly being championed by prominent Indigenous figures seeking more power and will not benefit First Nation's People who are most in need.
'This to me is just a power struggle from people who feel they're going to be left behind,' he said.
'They're all lawyers and academics or public servants, they've been living off the teat of government, and that's what this is all about. This is the battle for keeping them in power.'
Anthony Albanese appeared on the verge of tears several times during his announcement that the question for the referendum, set to be held between October and December, will simply be: 'Do you approve this proposed alteration?'
Mr Mundine isn't the only figurehead to oppose the referendum with similar sentiments echoed by Nationals senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, controversial Independent senator Lidia Thorpe and Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell.
Ms Thorpe also seemed not to buy the Prime Minister's waterworks during Thursday's announcement, tweeting after Mr Albanese's presentation, 'Cry me a river', alongside a vomit emoji.
During the 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 the 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.
'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.'
However opinion polling indicated Australians are very divided on whether to support the referendum, and there is some opposition even among the indigenous community.
Some critics worry the scope of the Voice to influence government policy could go too far, while others felt it was a feel-good gesture that will do nothing to help or recompense Aboriginal people.
Mr Mundine said the emotion Mr Albanese showed during the announcement was a stark contrast to what he showed in his unwillingness to meet with the delegation that represents the voice he claims he wants (pictured: Mr Albanese appearing on the verge of tears)
However at the press conference, supporters nodded along as the prime minister choked up while speaking about how important the Voice is.
'This is a risk, having a referendum,' Mr Albanese said. 'Usually they don't succeed. But the people here can't wait. They can't. They've waited so long. They've waited a long time for justice, this is something where they're making such a modest request. I do feel a responsibility.
Do you want the Constitution altered to recognise the First People's of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?Yes 259 votes No 1475 votes Unsure 157 votes
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'On the May 21 I began my prime ministership with a declaration about a referendum.
'I knew what I was doing, I knew the weight that was there and I knew how that would be received by people. I also knew I had my party completely behind me.
'I'm not here to occupy the space, I'm here to change the country. There's nowhere more important in changing the country than in changing the constitution to recognise the fullness of our history.
'I want this for all Australians. We'll feel better about ourselves if we get this done. The truth is, Australia will be seen as a better nation in the rest of the world. Our position in the world matters.'
As Mr Albanese and his entourage left Thursday's press conference, they were given raucous applause by the Labor caucus, who lined the walls between the meeting room and the prime minister's office.
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.
Anthony Albanese surrounded by members of the First Nations Referendum Working Group
Mr Albanese brought 18 others onto the podium for his announcement and his lip quivered
The final wording now needs to be approved by the parliament.
Referendum working group member Thomas Mayo said Indigenous