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The Times


Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud responds to questions about the Referendum result


The only thing I can say, now that we're back to Parliament after the Referendum, is to accept the decision of the Australian people, they always get it right. But sadly, all the Prime Minister has managed to do over the last 16 months is drive up people's cost of living and divide the country. It's important that he now focuses on what's important to Australian people, particularly the cost-of-living pressures that he's put on the Australian people. That's what they want this government to focus on. He's been distracted for the last 16 months, focused on the Voice rather than on Australian people's cost of living.

And unfortunately, he has let it get away from it. So it's important now that we do everything we can, not to pump more money into the economy, to keep driving up inflation, but to pull the policy levers that will drive down inflation.

And if you look at why inflation is staying high, discretionary spending has stopped, but the fixed cost is still going up, that's your food and that's your energy. And they're intertwined. The energy policy of this government is recklessly taking us over the cliff in a cost-of-living crisis. 82 per cent renewals by 2030 is madness. And what it will do, what it will do is continue to drive up the cost of living, but it effectively cannot be done. There's not the supply chain to put 22,000 solar panels a day out there and to put 40 wind turbines a month.

This is where we need to pause and we need to plan and look properly to make sure there's no intended consequences on the environment, which is being destroyed in this reckless race of renewables, and look at the sensible solutions that are there, like nuclear energy. So we'll be pushing that as we are going back and focusing in on the cost-of-living pressures that unfortunately, this Prime Minister has missed for the last 16 months.


A lot of hurt among some Indigenous communities. Do you think the country can still achieve reconciliation? And what do you think that will look like?


Well, I think we're already in reconciliation. I think there has been a generosity of spirit and a generosity of financial support where there is disadvantage. And I think Australians shouldn't talk themselves down. We have closed the gap in many parts of this country, through that generosity of spirit. But the proposition the Prime Minister put to us wasn't a new one. It was one we had before. It was one that didn't close the gap entirely. It was called ATSIC. It was a representative body that didn't work in regional and remote areas, and that's why we couldn't support it. But I think what we need to do is understand that the Australian people always get it right, this beautiful thing called democracy, no matter the result, can you turn your back on. And I know that Indigenous leaders, some Indigenous leaders, not all, and I think that's important, not to generalise, there are Indigenous Australians that didn't support this, but I think it's important that they understand that that hand of reconciliation that we've been walking for many, many years continues to be there. And it's about making sure that we can genuinely close the gap in those remote areas in particular.


And how would you propose that the government do that?


Well, we've already started as an opposition and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has already put forward a Senate Inquiry to make sure that we have accountability of the generosity of support that the Australian people are putting forward, over $4 billion last year was put out. But it's not going to the right places. That's why we haven't closed the gap. And it's not at a local level to a granular level that empowers local Elders. So we'll work constructively with the government, but they've got to be prepared to listen. Jacinta is a proud Indigenous woman that has lived experience, that lives in remote Australia, and yet the Australian government is ignoring her.

She comes here with the lived experience of wanting to close the gap and knowing how to do it. But the government had been so focused on the Voice and this one mechanism that was a catchall for everything, that they actually failed to listen to their own Indigenous Senators, with a lived experience, that's a failure of government.


David, do you still support a second Referendum?


Look, I don't think we need to rush into a second Referendum. I think the Australian people don't need to go through that until proper processes are undertaken and that we as a Parliament come together and can appreciate what that would look like, and then, respect the proper processes of the Constitutional convention. We're not just one cohort of Australians get invited and get asked to have input into it, but we all do. But I think there's a lot of healing to be done. I don't think we need to go through that trauma anytime soon. I think the focus that the Australian people want us to be, focused on, is closing the gap where it hasn't been closed.


Do you think Referendums are going to be put in the too hard basket on all issues now, given the lack of success at any stage in the last 45 years?


Well, I think if you want to have a Referendum, you've got to have bipartisan support. And that's what the Prime Minister ignored. He ignored the fact that unless you have bipartisan support, you won't get it up. But he ploughed on anyway in his arrogance and hubris and he divided the country. And that's why I say all the Prime Minister has managed in 16 months is to drive up everyone's cost of living and divide our country. He was told on numerous occasions to pause, to stop and to rethink what he was proposing here, but he didn't. And this lays squarely at the Prime Minister's feet.


Andrew Gee left the party over this issue. I see Calare returned a 28/72 result against the Voice. Is there a room for him back in the party or no?


There's no place for Andrew Gee, not in our party. Once you leave the family, the family leaves you and the people of Calare have already left him. When he decided on this, and I respected, and in fact, I made it very clear to him that we respected that he had a different position, and we actually celebrate that in The Nationals. We're the only party that actually celebrates that diversity, where you can have a differing opinion. And he made this about the Voice when he knew he had every opportunity to still be different the rest of the party room.

And there was no issue about staying in the party room. So Andrew Gee has no right to come back. And it shows that he's not in touch with his electorate. He doesn't understand his electorate. And I don't want someone in my party room that I can't trust.


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