There has to be a better way

4 September, 2023

The first thing I'd like to do is identify with the member for Boothby's remarks on endometriosis and congratulate her on the work that she does. I hope that the opportunities given to the people of Adelaide will be given to people right across Australia, especially the women suffering such a debilitating disease.

I had the good pleasure of being on Mim Hook's ABC radio program this morning. Mim has been following me through my walk with the Voice. As many of you would know here, for five years I have spoken on the Voice and promoted the Voice. I have written essays on the Voice and had them published. But one thing I said to Mim in an interview more than a month ago was that we must firstly listen to our local Indigenous people.

I was contacted by Cheryl Drayton immediately after the interview. Cheryl sat me down and told me why she would not be supporting the Voice. It didn't matter what argument I put to Cheryl and the elders in my community, I lost the debate. It was very clear that she came and asked me not to support the Voice and to not be a voice for the Voice. I said to her, 'Cheryl, can I walk out of these meetings and say that my Indigenous people do not support the Voice?' She said, 'You can surely say that, Russell.'

So I had to go back to Mim this morning and tell her the story of how, at the time, when talking about Indigenous people in my electorate, I said, 'You should be listening to what they have to say on the Murray-Darling Basin, fire management in our native bush and the issues that we've made mistakes on in this country,' and then tell her, 'I don't want to make another mistake by not listening to them on this issue.'

Is there another way to go about what we're trying to achieve here? I've got to tell you, I don't know. I know that what we have been doing hasn't worked and that it's insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over again with no result, which former senator Gareth Evans made very clear in his document. Is there a way forward, at the moment, that is going to be beneficial for practical outcomes? I see, this morning, that both sides are arguing that there'll be no practical outcome for Aboriginal people if we follow the other side's arguments. I leave that with you.

We all get one vote, whether we be a parliamentarian or a dairy farmer like Cheryl.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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