Leading No campaigner Warren Mundine says he would consider vying for a spot on the Voice should the referendum succeed on October 14.
Mr Mundine, who leads the Recognise a Better Way organisation, said regardless of the result in next month’s referendum, Australia would be “polarised”; but he would respect the outcome of the debate because “we live in a liberal democracy”.
Moments after Opposition Leader Peter Dutton suggested Marcia Langton and Yes campaigners would automatically be appointed to a role on the Voice, Mr Mundine said he would consider seeking a place on the advisory council to ensure the Voice did what it was tasked to do.
Asked by reporters in Canberra if he was still considering seeking a position on the Voice, Mr Mundine said: “If yes gets up, sure”.
“I’ll be there to make sure that we do fix the issues that are plaguing Aboriginal communities,” Mr Mundine said.
“I’ve said that from day one, and I’ll continue to say that.”
What the Voice will look like should the Yes vote succeed would ultimately be voted on by the Parliament, but Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has long suggested the model devised by Tom Calma and professor Langton – which calls for a Voice of 24 representatives, made up of members from every state, territory, and the Torres Strait Islands – would be closely considered.
The referendum working group, which is currently advising the government on the design of the Voice, says the body will be elected by First Nations people, and based on the wishes of local communities.
Meanwhile, as tensions flare over comments made by professor Langton that specifically criticised the case against an Indigenous advisory body, Mr Dutton has warned Australians of the role he believes she would have should the Voice succeed.
“Every time the No cases raise their arguments, if you start pulling it apart you get down to base racism – I’m sorry to say that’s where it lands – or sheer stupidity,” Prof Langton told a referendum event at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia on Sunday.
On Thursday, Mr Dutton returned serve, branding Ms Langton’s language as “vitriolic” and “bitter”, and claiming Yes campaign members would be appointed to the Voice advisory body.
“Well, I think they’re just providing, you know, a sort of a look through the window of what the Voice might be as a body – if it’s successful on October 14, it will be divisive,” he told Nine Radio host Ray Hadley.
“You hear it in the language of Marcia Langton, but some of the others as well … members on the (Yes) committee who have got union affiliations or Labor Party backgrounds or sympathisers to the communist cause.
“These people are the ones who would have all of the power under the Voice that the Prime Minister is proposing,” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Mundine said no matter the result on October 14, Australia would be “polarised”, but pleaded for both sides of the campaign to end the “vitriolic arguments and fights”.
“My concern is that we don’t wake up on Sunday (October 15) and the whole place is on fire. We really want people to know, no matter what the decision is, that it’s a democracy,” he said.
“People will make that choice and we must all accept it. And we must then work together to deal with the issues that are happening in Indigenous communities.”