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Dutton pledges to hold second referendum if Voice vote fails



Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has promised to hold a second referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians if next month's Voice to parliament vote is defeated and the Coalition wins power at the next election.

Dutton has been a leading figure in the campaign against enshrining a Voice to parliament in the Constitution, saying it would interfere with the processes of government and do little to improve the lives of regional and remote Indigenous Australians.

"Enshrining a voice in the Constitution is divisive, it will divide the country down the middle and it will not provide the practical outcomes," he said.

READ MORE: John Farnham gives You're the Voice song to Voice Yes campaign

"It will change the way of government very significantly, because of the broad words, and I think it would grind the process of government decision-making to a near halt."

Setting out his alternative proposals, the Coalition leader said he supported the creation of local advisory groups in regional and remote areas, and having Indigenous Australians recognised in the Constitution – but not via a national advisory body.

"We went to the last election and a number of elections before that with that as our policy and that will be our policy going into the next election as well," he told Sky News.

"I think it is right and respectful to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution. We will work with the Labor party to find a common ground."

Asked whether his party would commit to holding another referendum during its first term of government if the vote on October 14 is defeated, he said it would – even as he hit out at the upcoming referendum's $450 million cost to taxpayers, saying it would be "better spent building boarding houses" in remote communities.

Dutton's pledge comes on the same day as the Uluru Dialogue revealed its Yes campaign ad featuring John Farnham's hit song You're The Voice.

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John Farnham.

The opposition leader used the Yes campaign's Farnham announcement to highlight his opposition to the campaign.

"In a sense, it is the appropriate song for the Yes campaign, because, remember, the key line in the lyrics there is 'You're the voice, try to understand it'," he said.

"I don't think most Australians understand it.

"(The prime minister) is withholding information until after the election – he's been very clear about that."

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has described the Voice to parliament as an advisory committee chosen by Indigenous people and said it won't hold any direct veto power over parliament, but he hasn't specified how the committee would be elected.

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Dutton said his alternative proposals have the support of the Indigenous elders he has spoken to in remote and regional communities, but Uluru Dialogue strategic advisor Kristie Parker said it was clear he was not listening to the Indigenous community.

"Some people have said that the referendum is an expensive exercise, and yet here we have the opposition leader proposing to spend the same amount of money on something that would not change lives," Parker said.

"That's the poorest investment of Australian taxpayers' dollars."

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