Doorstop - St Paul's Anglican Church, Canberra

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well Reverend Bachelard has given us a very powerful sermon this morning, speaking about the importance of the Statement from the Heart. About how we need to listen to its call as a community. She spoke about its grace, and indeed, I believe it is, and that's why I believe very firmly that Australians should take the opportunity that they’ll have in the second half of this year to cast a vote for yes. To cast a vote to walk upon the path of reconciliation in the spirit of generosity in which the Uluru Statement from the Heart calls us.

JOURNALIST: The Newspoll that came out about the Voice shows that if it was held today, there might just be enough to get it over the line. Do you think your prayers might actually be answered this year?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I hope so. You've always got to think about what the counterfactual is, and the responsibility that we have to bring the country together. As Premier Perrottet said last Friday, this should be above politics. This is something that is not for any political party, not for government, this is something that has arisen from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves. And we should answer this gracious call. And all of the polling, of course, polls come and go. What matters is when people cast their vote. But I ask people to think about the generosity of spirit, and in the spirit of the service that we've just been to, the call for Indigenous recognition in our Constitution, and consultation on matters that affect them, will not have an impact on most people's lives. But it might just make some people's lives, some of the most disadvantaged people in our country, their lives better.

JOURNALIST: You seem very confident that the Voice referendum will pass. If it does, when do you think you will want to introduce legislation and set up the Voice? Would it be in this term of Parliament?

PRIME MINISTER: I'd be very hopeful that it would be, of course, in this term of Parliament. This is a task which we need to, of course, get the detail right. And there’d be a process as well of that parliamentary debate about the legislation. And I'd want to get as much agreement as possible, because I want this to be a long-term reform to benefit Indigenous Australians, to help close the gap. We'll be talking about closing the gap, and the targets, and the fact that so many of them have not been met, when that is debated in Parliament over this sitting. And that is why this is a change that's necessary.

JOURNALIST: Will the Voice also advise National Cabinet?  

PRIME MINISTER: This is a Voice to Parliament, and it will be a Voice that will release its views publicly. Publicly, it will be available for all, is one of the principles that has been there. And of course, so many of the issues go across different levels of government. This is about consultation. It won't have a right of veto, it won't be a funding body, it’s very clear with the principles that have been put out.

JOURNALIST: There’s plans to debate the legislation for the Bell Inquiry this week I believe. Can you provide some more detail on that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Bell Inquiry which has been brought down, of course, last year. The debate, the legislation has been introduced in the normal way it's introduced, it then is debated. So I would expect that it would be debated this week. We know that there have been consequences of the decision of Scott Morrison to inexplicably take over so many different portfolios. And I can just assure Australians that I have only been sworn into the position of Prime Minister, none others, and I have no intention of doing so. But we know that there are consequences, including with the legal action that was taken. Thank you.