17 September 2023
SPEECH TO THE SYDNEY WALK FOR YES
SUNDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2023
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I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respect to their elders past and present.
And I extend that respect to every Indigenous leader in Australia who has fought for recognition and the Voice, over many years and many decades.
You’ve led the way forward with bravery and strength. And it’s our honour to walk with you today.
We’re in a special place.
Redfern. Just four kilometres from ground zero – where Arthur Phillip first stuck a flag in the ground and claimed this vast land for King George.
Redfern. Just two kilometres down Elizabeth Street to the Australian Hall – the site of the first Day of Mourning in 1938. A demand for acknowledgement and the seed that led to the 1967 referendum.
Redfern. Where Paul Keating asked us to imagine “how would I feel if this had been done to me?” And he asked us to recognise “how much we have lost by living so far apart.”
I’ve had the honour of representing this place in parliament for many years.
And in that time I have seen real leadership and real solutions.
Our leaders know their community. And they know how to deliver.
This is where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led services were born.
The first Aboriginal Legal Service. The first Aboriginal Medical Service.
Aged care, family and youth services, employment programs, men’s and women’s groups.
Based on the principals of self-determination.
That’s why these services work. They improve health, reduce crime, keep kids in school, and give local people more opportunities and hope.
But they come at a cost to the women and men who have to fight every time for that basic right to determine their path: nothing about me without me.
What if we finally acknowledged that the people most likely to have the solutions for their own lives should be empowered to design and deliver those solutions?
And that’s what the Voice will help us do.
It will advise parliament on the fundamental issues – like health care, aged care, housing and education and employment.
And so it will lead to more effective solutions.
We’re being asked to do something both simple and profound:
To recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians in our constitution.
To set up a body that will help us listen to their communities.
And to use that Voice to deliver better results and better lives.
In one month’s time we can vote yes.
Vote yes to recognition.
Vote yes to reconciliation.
Vote yes to listening.
Vote yes to justice.
Vote yes to better results.
Or we can vote no, and get more of the same.
Australians are a fair people. We are an egalitarian people. We love justice, and we love each other.
Let’s show that to the world and vote yes on October 14.