South Australian Greens back yes vote on voice amid Lidia Thorpe criticism of referendum | Indigenous voice to parliament
The South Australian Greens have declared their unanimous support for a voice to parliament, in a move expected to be seen as a shot across the bows to the party’s First Nations spokesperson, Lidia Thorpe.
First Nations Greens moved a motion in the SA parliament, backed by the broader party, to support the voice.
The motion, which was passed, gives support to the Uluru statement from the heart in full, including a voice to parliament, treaty and truth-telling and affirms support for a referendum to enshrine a First Nations voice into the constitution.
“That the SA Greens take steps to clarify – to members, supporters and the SA public – our support for the Uluru statement and for the referendum, and that we develop a plan to campaign actively for ‘yes’ in the referendum,” the motion read.
The SA Greens will also support enshrining a voice to the SA parliament, with legislation set to be introduced next month.
The SA Greens are the first state organisation to come out with a clear yes agenda.
The federal Greens are broadly supportive of the voice, and are negotiating with the Labor government over the details, including making progress on treaty and truth.
Their formal position is to implement all elements of the Uluru statement, and they also want the recommendations of the Aboriginal deaths in custody royal commission and the stolen generations report Bringing Them Home implemented.
The federal Greens acting leader, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, said the party would decide on a formal position within weeks and it was “a historic opportunity to get justice for First Nations people”.
“As Labor’s been working out their plan, we’ve been pushing them on several fronts – to make sure we see progress on treaty, to ensure Labor’s approach doesn’t undermine First Nations sovereignty, and that we see progress on ending deaths in custody and child removals,” Faruqi said.
“As a result of the discussions that occurred between the Greens and Labor, we’ve now got some initial outcomes: money in the budget for truth and treaty, and funding for real-time reporting of deaths in custody.
“Now that we have the Labor government’s timetable for legislation, [the] party room will meet early next month to discuss Labor’s plan and decide on our formal position on Labor’s voice legislation. We will be including Blak Greens members in this discussion.”
Thorpe, however, has called the referendum a “waste of money” and a “wasted exercise” and said the party does not support a yes or a no position. She wants treaty-making and truth-telling to be the priority before the voice is legislated.
She supports the First Nations advisory group the Blak Greens, which says the treaty is more important.
The Uluru statement lists the voice, enshrined in the constitution, as the “first reform”. Next is a Makarrata commission to supervise agreement-making and truth-telling – treaty then truth.
Those inside the Greens fear the confusion over Thorpe’s comments will help to amplify the opposition’s attacks on the voice referendum. While not saying he will oppose it, the Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, has been sowing doubts about Labor’s plans.
The Ngarrindjeri elder Uncle Moogy Sumner, as convener of the Original Greens – effectively the SA branch of the national First Nations Network or Blak Greens – moved the motion last month. The resolution was welcomed by the SA Greens party co-convener, Wirangu Kokatha man Brenz Saunders.
Saunders, who is also part of the Original Greens, said on Wednesday they wanted to nail down the state party’s position through a “straightforward, simple process of honest conversations”.
“The Original Greens wanted to have that opportunity to talk in a broader sense about how we felt about this topic and where the consensus lies,” he said. After answering questions from people who were not familiar with the background to the Uluru statement, Saunders said, they came to the “unanimous conclusion that we support and back the Uluru statement”.
Asked about Thorpe’s statements and the federal position, Saunders said others had the “right to voice opinions and concerns”.
“We’re certainly not all the same in regards to our jurisdictions and communities that we represent, but SA has made it clear. For us it was about what our members wanted, where they wanted the party position,” he said.
On Sunday, the federal First Nations Network representatives said they wanted truth, treaty and voice – the party’s position is set out in that order – while the Uluru statement lists the three factors as voice, treaty, truth – in that order.
The Greens MLC Tammy Franks said SA Greens members and the First Nations leaders had been “clear in their commitment to supporting the Uluru statement from the heart in full”.
The SA senator Sarah Hanson-Young said last year she would back the voice campaign.
“I’m going to be supporting the yes campaign, my colleagues are going to be supporting the yes campaign and we need to make sure this delivers for First Nations people,” Hanson-Young said.
Guardian Australia contacted Thorpe for comment.