Northern Territory chief minister and Australia’s first Aboriginal government leader Adam Giles reveals why he’ll be voting ‘No’ to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament
Australia’s first and only Indigenous head of government has revealed he will be voting no to The Voice.
Adam Giles became Prime Minister of the Northern Territory in 2013, after overthrowing Terry Mills in a Country Liberal Party coup.
This made him the first Aboriginal leader of a state or territory government.
Mr Giles, who now runs the farms of billionaire mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, said The Voice was a divisive issue designed to give Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a political legacy.
“I firmly believe that the voice is not the right approach,” he told Jody Rowe’s Tough Talk podcast.
‘The Voice to me is a kind of political tool that is lit: there is a rule in politics that you light a forest fire here while you are going to do everything there.
“For me, The Voice was set up as a political tool to put some sort of history into the Prime Minister’s biography and that smoldering fire that was lit has turned into a wildfire that is now uncontrollable, and it takes atonement and the race relationships back a step or two.
“People have had the nerve for the government not to explain what it is.”
Australia’s first and so far only Indigenous head of government has revealed he will vote no to the vote – describing it as a problem dividing black and white Australia. Former Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles is pictured right with his girlfriend Phoebe Stewart
Mr Giles supports the idea of adding a preamble to the constitution recognizing Indigenous people who lived in Australia before the British arrived in 1788.
This is also the position of the Liberal Party, led by Peter Dutton, against the Voice, but in favor of the recognition of the indigenous constitution.
Like the federal opposition, Mr Giles criticized Labor for not providing enough detail on the Voice proposal, which is likely to be put to a referendum in October.
“I don’t know what it is and I’m pretty well informed,” Mr Giles said.
“Now you see this big divide between black and white Australia.”
Mr Giles, 50, said Aboriginal people he sat on the sands with in Central Australia, as an Alice Springs MP, did not see a constitutional amendment necessary.
“I would say to people, ‘Do you want an amendment to the Constitution?’
“People said to me, ‘I want a house to live in, I want a roof over my head, I want a flushing toilet.’ I don’t know what the Constitution is.’.
‘In all my time in politics in the Northern Territory, not one person has told me they want to change the Constitution.
‘I think it’s a cruel farce. It is very disturbing that Aboriginal people are being used in a political tool.’
Mr. Giles is now the CEO of beef cattle producer S Kidman and Co, part-owned by Hancock Prospecting billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
He is also the CEO of Hancock Agriculture.
Mr Giles, who lost his Braitling seat in 2016, said he was an Australian first, having briefly removed the Indigenous Affairs portfolio when he ran the NT.
“But I would say I was not an Indigenous Prime Minister, I was the 10th Northern Territory Chief Minister,” he said.
“I come from an Aboriginal background, but I like to call myself an Australian, so I think about being an Australian rather than being pigeonholed as just an Indigenous politician.
“I don’t like that terminology. I think when people say that you are denounced as a lesser person in terms of being a politician and I prefer to just be recognized as an Australian who happens to have an Indigenous heritage and background.”
Mr Giles was a senior Canberra official in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2001 when it reviewed the old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.
Mr Giles, who now runs the farms of billionaire mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, said The Voice was a divisive issue designed to leave a political legacy for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The Prime Minister is pictured on the far right with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, Yes23 campaign manager Dean Parkin and Indigenous leader Noel Pearson
John Howard’s coalition government introduced legislation in 2004 to abolish ATSIC the following year, with support from the Labor Opposition then led by Mark Latham.
Like the Voice, ATSIC representatives were elected by Aboriginal people, but unlike the Voice, it was not added to the Constitution as an advisory body and could therefore be abolished by an Act of Parliament.
Mr Albanese described the vote as a grassroots idea on Sunday and urged delegates to the national Labor conference in Brisbane to campaign for it.
“I want you to go out and campaign like you’ve never campaigned before,” he said.
And just as the idea of a vote came from the grassroots, it will be decided at the grassroots. By the people of Australia.’