Prime Minister Scott Morrison has echoed his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull’s rejection of an Indigenous voice to parliament, claiming such a body would constitute a ‘third chamber’.
Speaking to Radio National on Wednesday, Mr Morrison said he does not support a ‘third chamber’ to parliament – even after ABC presenter Fran Kelly explained it was not.
“It really is. They can dress it up any way they like but I think two chambers is enough,” he said.
“The implications of how this works, frankly, lead to those same conclusions and I share the view that I don’t think that’s a workable proposal.”
But Mr Morrison’s claims have been flatly rejected by many proponents of a voice to parliament, saying he's "lying" about the body being a third chamber.
"Like his predecessor, he's lying about what it is," former Uluru Working Group co-chair Thomas Mayor told NITV News.
“There is power in a First Nations voice and that is what they’re afraid of. They do not want to have a voice that is unapologetic in standing up for what our people need and that is just wrong," he said.
Mr Mayor, who is also the Branch Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, said Mr Morrison's dismissal of an Indigenous voice "says everything about the ignorance of this government".
“They’ve been ignorant all along,” he said. “But I think this generation of white male political leader and that ignorance has got a limited time left."
Former Referendum Council member and constitutional lawyer Professor Megan Davis rejected the prime minister's comment.
Mr Morrison "knows it’s not a third chamber", she said on Twitter.
"Have a transparent and accurate debate, don’t invent something to avoid a complex legal and policy debate," she wrote.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek reinforced her party's commitment to prioritising an Indigenous voice.
"Our priorities remain an Indigenous voice to parliament and closing the gap, particularly in health and education, two things Scott Morrison has said nothing about it since he took Malcolm Turnbull’s job from him," she said.
While Labor has continually promised support, Mr Mayor says community pressure will help deliver a voice to parliament, and it will take a new leader to see any change.
“I’ve seen Labor governments make promises before. Bob Hawke promised treaty and he didn’t deliver because of the political expediency of the day and we saw our hopes dashed again,” he said.
"I mean who is Scott Morrison, he’s an interim prime minister in my view and I’m already looking at the next leader because he’s not going to last long.
“This is about a people’s movement now and that’s the only way we’re going to achieve what we want, and it’s not by taking no as an answer from someone like Scott Morrison.”
It comes as a Joint Select Committee considers a raft of submissions on how to move forward on constitutional reform. Its interim report found broad support for an Indigenous voice, with a final report expected by the end of November.