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Fresh bid to save Voice after latest blow

Prime Minister
A new poll has revealed support for the Voice is falling. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

A leading Liberal proponent of the Voice will attempt to save the referendum from failing when he introduces amendments to a Bill before parliament next week.

Julian Leeser, who stood aside from the shadow frontbench last month to vote yes in the referendum, said the electoral prospects for the Voice were “not tracking as they should”.

A new Resolve poll – conducted for the Nine newspapers – has on Wednesday revealed support for the Voice is falling, with just 53 per cent of respondents likely to vote yes, down from 58 per cent a month ago.

Mr Leeser said he believed the best way to improve the prospects of a successful referendum was to “limit the arguments of the no case” by removing the proposed amendment to allow the Voice to make representations to the executive government.

He said the two amendments he would put to the House next week would “strengthen the proposition to be put to the Australian people at the referendum”.

Julian Leeser will introduce amendments to the Voice Bill in parliament next week. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Ben Symons
Julian Leeser will introduce amendments to the Voice Bill in parliament next week. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Ben Symons

“I believe the Voice should make representations to executive government – and that function can be included in legislation rather than in the Constitution,” he said.

“I am a supporter of the Voice, I will be voting yes at the referendum, the amendments I am proposing will improve the electoral prospects of the Voice.”

Many no campaigners are concerned the Voice’s ability to make representations could clog up the courts or slow down government decision-making.

But last month, long-awaited Solicitor-General advice revealed the proposal would not, in his opinion, “pose any threat to Australia’s system of representative and responsible government”.

Stephen Donaghue said the Voice would “enhance” the system of government.

Leading yes campaigners, including distinguished professor and reform architect Marcia Langton, have routinely said the Voice must be able to advise the executive government.

During a joint select committee hearing into the Voice last month, Professor Langton, who co-wrote the Voice co-design proposal, said in order for the Voice to be successful it needed to make representatives to both parliament and the executive government.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been adamant executive government derives its power from parliament, which remains sovereign under the Voice proposal.

Prime Minister
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been adamant about keeping ‘executive government’ in the proposed changes, in line with the Solicitor-General’s advice. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The latest polling indicates a sharp fall in support in states like Queensland and swings in smaller states that cast the possibility of a majority yes vote in doubt.

The no campaign is on track for a majority by August if there is no change to the trend, the poll suggests.

Yes campaigner Dean Parkin said the polling proved the conversation needed to get out of the “Canberra bubble” and into communities across the nation.

“At this stage, the target is all Australians across the country,” he told ABC Radio.

“We’re not at the stage of targeting specific states, taking for granted that we‘ve got particular states in the bag and that we can just coast our way through there.”