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Greens First Nations Network calls on party members to vote No or abstain in Voice referendum

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

EXCLUSIVE: Group says the Voice cannot accurately represent all Indigenous Australians.

The Australian Greens First Nations Network (AGFNN), also known as Blak Greens, has released a letter addressed to all Greens members and supporters, encouraging them to vote 'No' or abstain from voting in the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.

Referring to the proposed advisory body as 'Labor's Voice,' Blak Greens said they respect "everyone's rights to self-determine their vote," but encouraged people not to support the Voice.

Blak Greens says the Voice cannot accurately represent all Indigenous Australians, describing it as a "powerless advisory body". They added that the referendum "does not guarantee that there will be progress towards Truth and Treaty".

"The Voice will have no power, no authority, and no guaranteed way to influence anything," Blak Greens said.

"As an example, [Blak Greens] has structural power within the Australian Greens and is largely ignored".

The group has also called on Greens members and supporters to "demand" the federal government implements the recommendations from both the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report.

READ IN FULL: Letter from Australian Greens First Nations Network (AFGNN)

A Greens spokesperson told 6 News that party MPs will be "working hard" to ensure the Voice is successful.

"Greens MPs unanimously support the Yes campaign, and the Greens took a clear position to the election of campaigning for all elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart," the spokesperson said.

"When Greens MPs met earlier this year to consider how to vote on the Voice referendum and legislation, the Party Room sought advice from a variety of sources, including from the Australian Greens’ First Nations Network who agreed that the Greens should support Voice alongside Truth, Treaty and self-determination, and that Party Room can only say yes to a referendum on a Voice to Parliament."

"Some in the AGFNN may have a different view, and the Greens respect that there is a diversity of views within the AGFNN and the AGFNN is able to self determine their own position. However, the Greens remain committed to campaigning 'Yes'."

Earlier this year, the federal Greens party room announced they would support a Voice to Parliament after now-independent senator Lidia Thorpe, who opposes the Voice, left the party.

At the time, Blak Greens said they did not support the Voice. National co-convenor Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng told The Guardian on 8 February: "We don’t agree to a voice in the constitution. We won’t move from that position. It has no power".

The Guardian also reported that "[..] other Greens MPs claimed the First Nations Network [..] had told a party meeting last week that they shouldn’t oppose the Voice to Parliament".

A RedBridge poll on 24 September showed that 75% of Greens voters backed the Voice to Parliament, which was higher than both Labor voters (51%) and Coalition voters (19%). All other polls conducted since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was published in May 2017 also show the vast majority of Greens voters as supportive of the Voice.

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